Skip to main content

Carbon capture is key to achieving global net-zero emissions

75% of emissions reductions are expected to come from tech that is not yet mature. That’s why CATF’s team is working to rapidly accelerate the adoption of multiple carbon capture technologies at once, rather than relying on a few, limited solutions. We call this optionality.

Learn more about the latest updates from CATF’s carbon capture team and stay informed.

What is carbon capture?

Carbon capture, removal, and storage are a suite of climate technologies to mitigate emissions that play an essential role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from industrial processes, such as steel and cement production, and from the burning of fossil fuels in power generation. Direct air capture (DAC) technologies extract CO₂ directly from the atmosphere.

Emissions from certain industrial processes require extremely high heat, which electricity cannot currently supply. CO₂ emissions can also arise from the inherent chemistry of making a product.

Industrial processes

A three-step process

The carbon capture and storage (CCS) process includes three key steps:

1. Capture

Carbon dioxide is separated from other gasses, often through a chemical solution. The technology can capture up to 99% of carbon dioxide.

2. Transport

Once separated, the carbon dioxide is compressed to reduce its volume so that it can be transported via pipelines, trucks, or ships to a storage site.

3. Storage

Carbon dioxide is then injected into rock formations below the Earth’s surface and trapped in the pores of geologic formations with impermeable rock layers so that it can’t leak back into the atmosphere.

The carbon capture and storage solution

Want to know what the U.S. must do to address carbon emissions while leveraging the vast
geologic storage resources? Watch this 2-minute video.

Our approach and impact in accelerating
carbon capture solutions

At CATF, we take into account the global role of carbon capture technology as modeled by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and work backwards to develop, evaluate, and implement a roadmap of policies that will allow the technology to scale, deploy globally, and deliver necessary CO₂ reductions to meet climate goals. CATF works to ensure that by 2030, carbon capture technologies will have achieved cost parity with unabated fossil and that policy pathways exist to help deploy carbon capture globally at a meaningful scale.

Applying knowledge, ingenuity and thought leadership to drive change forward

  • Policy Development and Advocacy: We advocate for policies, regulations, and incentives that will drive carbon capture deployment in both the power and industrial sectors, and expand the existing network of CO₂ pipelines and storage sites.
  • Commercial Assessment and Support: Our experts evaluate emerging technologies, promote business partnerships that develop new projects, and support plans to advance carbon capture hubs composed of pipeline and storage sites. CATF leads information sharing and business-to-business partnership-building through workshops and site tours.
  • Carbon Capture Economics and Analysis: We conduct extensive research and modeling to understand the factors that impact CCS deployment including costs, market ecosystem barriers, and business models.
  • Education and Outreach: At CATF, we educate policymakers and stakeholders on the long-term carbon reduction benefits of carbon capture technology and enable critical path policy choices that will allow the technology to play its part in achieving significant carbon reductions from the unabated use of fossil fuels.

Learn more about our efforts around the globe and explore our team’s achievements.

Interactive Tools

Explore CATF’s interactive maps of carbon capture, storage and utilization projects

Thanks to CATF’s interactive map, researchers can track early stage carbon capture projects globally.

CCS U.S. project map

Give Now

Support our work in protecting the planet through carbon capture solutions

Donate widget box

Key facts and misconceptions
about carbon capture

Is CO₂ storage underground pollution?

No. When it’s in the atmosphere, CO₂ is a pollutant because it actively damages the environment through global warming. When it’s in the deep subsurface, CO₂ does not damage the environment because geologic reservoir targets are either already filled with highly saline water, or had originally held hydrocarbons and CO₂ in the first place. Moreover, CO₂ naturally occurs underground and has been mined for decades by the oil and gas industry.

Is there enough space to store CO₂?

There is abundant underground storage capacity available around the world to store CO₂. In Europe, for example, there is sufficient storage capacity for more than 100 years of current emissions. The total CO₂ storage capacity available in Europe is estimated to be 482 Gt according to CO2StoP.

Interconnected CO₂ systems are the most efficient way to store CO₂. Collecting it from multiple capture sources, compressing it, and delivering it to sites where it can be utilized or stored allows us to tap into economies of scale.

What is CO₂ utilization?

CO₂ can be repurposed for other potential applications. While many are experimental and not yet at scale, there are ways to transform captured CO₂ into fuels, cement, plastics, carbon fiber, and other materials.

However, we need to ensure that CO₂ utilization delivers permanent emissions reductions, and utilization cannot replace the need for geologic storage of CO₂. The International Energy Agency has shown that 95% of CO₂ will need to be stored in permanent geologic storage to reach climate goals.

Is it safe to put CO₂ into rock formations underground?

It’s very safe to put CO₂ in rocks. Geologic storage in its simplest form takes place in a porous rock capped by an impermeable rock. CO₂ is injected into the porous rock in a very compressed liquid-like form and becomes trapped in the pores of the rock. Storage of the CO₂ is low-risk for leakage for the long-term and is permanent.

Isn’t carbon capture used to keep coal-fired power plants open?

Carbon capture is needed for energy intensive industries to reduce emissions and deliver on the Paris Agreement climate goals. It’s a versatile  technology capable of eliminating 99% of the CO₂ emissions from both existing and new industrial and power plants. It can be applied to a wide range of sources such as steel, cement, waste-to-energy, ethanol, hydrogen, ammonia, and power plants.

As each regional economy is different, diverse technologies are needed.

Does carbon capture and storage technology mean industry can rely on it, rather than taking meaningful structural action?

We need as many carbon reduction methods as possible. CCS does not replace or divert resources away from other decarbonization solutions; it’s part of the diverse approach necessary to reduce emissions to zero by mid-century, and the world is not on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In fact, total annual emissions are expected to rise at their second-fastest pace ever in 2022. That’s why CATF is advancing a variety of climate solutions, including carbon capture.

Carbon capture and storage has the potential to transform industry, decarbonizing it and thus proofing it for a future carbon-constrained world.

If the plan is to electrify, why do we need carbon capture and storage technology?

The IPCC has shown that we cannot afford to take any solutions off the table at this point in time. Carbon capture and storage is not about replacing renewables or electrification – it complements other sources of clean energy and delivers additional reductions in areas where renewables cannot be realistically deployed. Electrification is not as effective in reducing emissions in some energy-intensive industries, such as steel, iron, cement and chemical production and waste disposal.

Sign up and stay in the know

Get the latest news on climate solutions, policy and technology progress and energy transformation developments from CATF experts.

"*" indicates required fields