Digitalization will help carbon capture and sequestration industry to be more efficient, safe and profitable

R. Sharma (1), Schneider Electric
A. Acquatella, Schneider Electric

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) refers to a group of technologies that can help mitigate climate change by lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. While zero-carbon alternative solutions evolve, CCUS provides a near-term pathway to rapidly reduce the impacts of existing, difficult-to-decarbonize, emissions-intensive infrastructure and processes.

The goal of CCUS is to capture CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels before it is discharged into the atmosphere. The dilemma then becomes what to do with the CO2 that has been captured (FIG. 1). The majority of current CCUS plans call for injecting CO2 deep below the Earth’s surface. This results in a “closed loop” in which carbon is removed from the Earth as fossil fuels and then returned as CO2.

In many cases, the CO2 must be transported, usually by pipeline, for permanent and verifiable sequestration. The use cases for CCUS infrastructure are trending up. According to a Princeton University report published in December 2020 and funded in part by the oil industry, a 65,000-m system will be operational by 2050, up from the existing 5,000 m of CO2 pipes in the U.S. Additionally, according to the Global CCS Institute, 24 CO2 capture and injection plants were operating worldwide in 2020, with 12 in the U.S.

Caution when transporting CO2 through pipelines. CO2 is highly corrosive, especially when contaminated with water, and CO2 reacts differently in a pipeline than natural gas, making a leak more harmful and, therefore, necessitating robust pipeline designs and robust monitoring.

The CO2 gas is compressed into a liquid condition and then pushed through pipelines at high pressure to transport it. Furthermore, the pipeline is significantly larger in diameter than ordinary gas pipes, necessitating compressors throughout the system to keep the CO2 in a liquid form.

While CO2 transport accidents are uncommon, the possibility of a deadly leak remains. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if CO2 leaks from a pipeline, a concentration in the ambient air of between 7% and 10% might constitute an immediate hazard to human life.

How digital technology can aid with efficient carbon capture. For operational efficiency, safety and profitability, digital technologies will be critical in CCUS operations, such as planning, process automation, predictive maintenance, flow surveillance (anomaly detection) and control systems. To support these goals, for example, a digital twin representation of installations and the associated power system and grid can accurately monitor the liquified CO2 flow in pipelines using exception-based surveillance (e.g., leak detection, pressure/temperature tracking). This energy-efficient solution uses variable speed drives and multi-station optimization using a model-based software solution.

Additionally, graphical services can be used to visualize operational, financial and environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) and historical data linked to CCUS operations. This is a predictable cloud system architecture. An IT/OT interface that integrates various data sources (including sensor data) and facilitates machine-learning and artificial intelligence (AI)-based descriptive and predictive analysis is essential to the operation of CCUS.

Explore digital solutions for sustainable operations. Using Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled solutions to seamlessly connect, collect, analyze and act on data in real time delivers enhanced safety, efficiency, reliability and sustainability performance of major industries, like energy and chemicals. GP


RAJESH D. SHARMA is Global Marketing Director for the Schneider Electric Energies & Chemicals segment, where he is responsible for developing strategies, thought leadership, marketing tactics and new business models around integrated digitized solutions for the Schneider Electric Oil & Gas portfolio of offerings. Sharma has more than 30 yr of experience in the energy sector and has previously acted as Managing Director for Telvent Energia SA branch, Abu Dhabi, for the Middle East region and as General Manager in Reliance Industries, India. He has published numerous articles and papers on various topics including integrated technologies, digitalization, sustainability and energy transition. Sharma holds a BS degree in instrumentation engineering from India.


ALAN ACQUATELLA heads the Pipeline & New Energies Infrastructure segment for Schneider Electric. He brings domain expertise about industry and customer requirements and provides thought leadership and knowledge on valuable technologies and services customers can use to improve their operations and sustainability efforts. Previously at the company, Acquatella held roles in business development, solutions and product offer management, segment marketing and planning. With more than 25 yr of industry experience in the process control, instrumentation, SCADA and software business serving the oil and gas segments, he has focused the last 13 yr on the midstream industry, serving midstream customers globally, anticipating their needs and bringing innovative solutions leveraging Schneider Electric portfolio and competencies. Acquatella graduated with a BS degree in electronics engineering from Universidad Simon Bolivar, and an MBA from Cornell University Ithaca, New York.

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