Innovation investment for carbon capture takes to the air – new report

Nov 15 2022

Global innovation in carbon capture utilisation and storage technology – especially direct air capture – is reaching a peak not seen since 2012.

The second annual edition of the Inside Green Innovation:Progress Report 2022, from leading intellectual property firm Appleyard Lees, analyses patent filings across several key environmental issues facing the world, including carbon capture utilisation and storage.

The report points to a steady upturn in CCUS patent filing numbers in recent years, with more than 140 in 2020 – a 60%-plus increase since 2015 – and an ongoing increase expected from 2021-22. Half of the new, priority patents filed in 2020 relate to direct air capture, where innovation is needed to address this emerging technology’s current challenges.

Patent attorney Sarah Gibbs, senior associate at Appleyard Lees, said, “Capturing and storing carbon is essential to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global temperature increase to no more than two degrees Celsius and achieving net zero by 2050.

“Our research shows that the number and scale of CCUS projects worldwide is accelerating, including new storage site activity in the North Sea.”

A new technology brief presented during COP27’s decarbonisation day, compiled by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), includes CCUS among the technologies needed to create a circular carbon economy. 


Direct air capture dominates CCUS innovation

Innovation in direct air capture for CCUS is expected to be a necessary part of meeting climate goals, though it comes with challenges such as the lower concentration of carbon dioxide in air compared to gas power stations. And its currently high cost for large scale adoption will require technology advances.

Innovation in this area of CCUS is currently led by companies such as Climeworks AG in Switzerland, which uses filters containing amines (an ammonia derivative) which bind carbon dioxide from the air. The company launched “Orca”, the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant in 2021, while its “Mammoth” plant project – expected to capture 36 kilo-tonnes per annum when operational – was announced in June this year.

In the USA, The Inflation Reduction Act – signed by American President Joe Biden in August this year – could potentially maintain the USA’s 20-year pole position in filing CCUS patents. And while European innovation in the technology has re-emerged only in the past five years, South Korean patent filing numbers now place it in the top three global locations for CCUS innovation.

Patent attorney, Ashley Wragg of Appleyard Lees, said: “Improving current or developing novel technologies will, we believe, increase global interest in carbon capture – including the industrialisation of air capture.

“However, a promising future alternative could come from using algae as a natural, direct air capture method. Current innovation includes growing algae in large ponds to remove carbon from the air and bury it underground – and this area is attracting interest from major companies.”

The Inside Green Innovation: Progress Report 2022’s focus on CCUS was chosen because of its prominence in the global green innovation conversation, as referenced in the OECD’s and United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Green Innovation Database, a global innovation catalogue that connects needs for solving environmental or climate change problems with sustainable solutions.

Read the report

Previous: TCRK announces carbon capture project with Asia Cement

Next: Up to $50 million to help Alberta's industrial sector decarbonise

Issue 94 - July - Aug 2023

CCUS in Australia - Fast-tracking DAC testing at CO2CRC’s Otway Test Centre .. ‘Carpooling carbon’: Net Zero Zones to boost climate action .. Modular, low-cost hybrid capture technology Northern Lights Phase 1 "80% ready" - read our report from the .....