There are a number of promising new carbon capture technologies reaching the global market that can be applied across heavy-emitting industries to make progress on the journey to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

One of these companies is Carbon Clean a carbon capture solutions provider headquartered in London, England with offices in Canada, India and the United States. Carbon Clean has developed a proprietary solvent for liquid amine-based CO2 capture, as well as a suite of modular capture equipment that is able to efficiently integrate with existing facilities. We spoke with Aniruddha Sharma, chair and CEO, about where Carbon Clean’s technology fits in the global CCS landscape, the company’s growth plans, and the projects they have underway in the cement, steel and energy sectors:


Can you give us a brief history of Carbon Clean, how it began and where it fits in the global CCS industry today?

We've really been on a journey of evolution over the past 15 years. We started in 2009 as a company focused on inventing new chemicals to reduce the energy cost and the corrosion caused by solvents used in amine systems over time. After five or six years we evolved to become more focused on industrial decarbonization and moved towards developing a system that is fully modular. It is designed to significantly reduce the size and cost of carbon capture for cement, steel, waste, refining, petrochemicals, power plants, maritime applications and other facilities where space is tight, budget is tight and timelines are limited to get CCS up and running.

As the interest and investor confidence in CCS has grown, we have grown. Today we have 49 technology references around the world in 10 countries and to date we have captured over 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 cumulatively across those sites.


How do Carbon Clean’s products differ from the traditional liquid amine-based capture systems that the existing large-scale CCS plants use? What are the advantages of your technology?

The first area we have focused on is reducing the size of carbon capture equipment because the space and cost of carbon capture have been significant barriers to adoption. With our latest modular system, CycloneCC, we’ve compressed the size of a traditional amine-based system by 10 times, which reduces the overall footprint and the cost by up to 50 per cent. As a fully modular system, it can be delivered to a site in a matter of weeks, making it much faster to install, with less disruption to operations, and it’s scalable so it can easily be expanded over time.

The other area of focus is coming up with a carbon capture process that works in a smaller modular system, with reduced energy consumption and less corrosion issues than in earlier generations of carbon capture technology. Our solutions start at the molecular level, with the development of new proprietary amines and solvents that are more efficient. This has been combined with the use of rotating packed beds that use centrifugal force to enhance reactivity and intensify the process by an order of magnitude compared to traditional static equipment.

Our technology is particularly well suited for medium and small-sized industrial facilities. In addition to reducing the size, cost and timelines for adding carbon capture to existing operations, the modular approach places less strain on labour and the supply chain for CCS projects. Having hardware that is modular and can be delivered within a few weeks helps clear some of the hurdles to delivering a project on time and on budget, as you don’t need to plan for months of construction at your site.


How have you dealt with the common challenges related to the varying qualities of flue gas and amine degradation? Have the lessons from first-generation CCS projects helped the development of your technology?

It’s a very prudent question. The experience from Boundary Dam and other existing facilities have been absolutely relevant because they have created a standard for carbon capture projects that has given regulators, policymakers and investors confidence that they can be built and can operate over a long period of time.

When it comes to the technology, we have been fortunate to have had access to information and the ability to collaborate with other project developers and test centres going back to 2012. Our solvent management focus has been to design solvents that have less reactivity to contaminants, and also developing active filtration systems that can be placed through the capture system to remove contaminants. What we are also thinking a lot about right now is the replacement of solvent, so that when better solvents are available in two or three years’ time, they can be incorporated into our facilities, which will help lower costs and provide better performance and be more sustainable.


Carbon Clean’s technology relies heavily on the use of rotating equipment. Does this present any unique issues related to the mechanical aspects of your products?

Our rotating packed beds essentially increase the speed of the carbon capture chemical reaction using centrifugal force. This does present additional requirements for maintenance, as well as defining standards for safe operations. One way we are addressing potential issues is through our modular approach that allows for spare parts to be easily and quickly available or even kept in reserve, while our technology's compact size makes it possible to add extra trains into a project’s design so that if one unit has to go down for maintenance or repairs, a backup can be up and running right away. We have not run into any significant challenges at this point, because we have an excellent partnership model with our end users that ensures they are very comfortable with the technology as they co-design their projects with us.


What are the key projects you have underway right now, and what areas are you focused on for future growth?

We have a number of strong global partners in heavy-emitting industrial sectors, including cement, steel and energy production. I would say that right now our focus for growth is in geographies and areas where there is significant support for new CCS development between industries and government, primarily the United States and Canada, Europe and the Middle East. We just opened our first Canadian office in Calgary, as we are excited about the opportunities in Canada right now, especially in Alberta.

Overall, the growth opportunities for carbon capture are huge. There is a strong desire to decarbonize by 2050 and the majority of the top 2,000 companies in the world have announced some kind of carbon reduction target. There is not enough hardware to supply this market today, which is why we want to be the player in this space that can provide standardized, mass-produced carbon capture equipment to meet this need.