Japan Develops Carbon-Reducing Technology


With carbon dioxide being the main contribution to global warming, Japan has developed several projects to cut back on emission in the hopes of reaching net-zero.

Japan Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (JCCS) captures and stores CO2 in the western wing of the Tomakomai port, utilized CO2 from an adjacent gas supply facility at Idemitsu Kosan Hokkaido Refinery.

“We receive a maximum of 25 tons of CO2 per hour which is equivalent to 600 tons a day. Our target was to process 100,000 tons in one year,” said Yamagishi Kazuyuki from JCCS. “We achieved the injection of 300,000 tons two years ago.”

The Tomakomai CCS Demonstration Project separates CO2 from the gas and is captured by chemical absorption. After applying pressure, the carbon is injected under the seabed. The two injection wells were drilled from onshore towards offshore sub-sea bed reservoirs.

One well is located under a sandstone layer between the depths of 1,000 to 1,200 meters (about 3,281 to 3,937 feet). The other well reaches a volcanoclastic layer between 2,400 to 3,000 meters (about 7,874 to 9,843 feet) deep.

According to JCCS, these wells are continuously monitored after injection for migration, distribution and any micro-seismic activity. It also monitors the surrounding marine environment to verify there are no leaks of CO2.

“The International Energy Agency estimates in 2050 we'll have to be capable of storing over seven billion tons of CO2 per year with CCS systems in order to achieve net-zero,” said JCCS President Nakajima Toshiaki. “This would allow to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way, or to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere and store it underground.”

Kajima Technical Research Institute also reportedly developed the first concrete in the world that is capable of absorbing carbon dioxide during the curing process. The concrete was created through a joint research project between Kajima and Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc.

CO2 Storage Under Infrastructure by a Concrete Material, or CO2-SUICOM, is created by adding a chemical byproduct to the concrete and exposing it to CO2.

“We use CO2 gas instead of water for the CO2-SUICOM's curing process,” said Watanabe Kenzo, General Manager for Kajima Technical Research Institute. “CO2 is immobilized by bringing it into contact with the concrete while it is still hardening. We add a special mixture ‘γC2S’— we call it ‘magic powder’ as it solidifies a large amount of CO2. The more we produce this ‘magic concrete’ the more it reduces CO2 from the atmosphere.”

Kenzo explained that, during production, ordinary concrete emits about 288 kilograms per cubic meter, but SUICOM emits minus 18 kilograms.

According to Kajima, the idea of utilizing “carbonization” in SUICOM originates from ancient concrete excavated at the Daichiwan Ruins in China in the 80s. The raw material for the concrete was volcanic ash and lime, which reacted with CO2 to become dense and prevent erosion.

Kajima plans to use SUICOM in other infrastructure and building projects, and has already built walls, ceiling panels and interlocking blocks with the concrete.

Recent Concrete, CO2 Research

In August, Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall developed what it’s calling a “climate-smart hydropower concrete” that can reportedly use less cement, reducing its overall carbon dioxide emissions by about a quarter.

The company reported by reducing its cement content in structural concrete, there is a direct reduction in the strain on what otherwise would be inputted to the environment. To achieve this reduction in cement quantity and heat development, Vattenfall is using by-products that react with cement in combination with lessons learned from the company’s major periods of expansion in the 1950s and '60s to develop a modern, climate-smart concrete concept. 

In wake of the development, Vattenfall is planning to utilize the climate-smart hydropower concrete to replace parts of an existing dam at its Lilla Edet power station in Göta älv near Gothenburg, Sweden. The company plans to complete the dam replacement project by 2024.

In September, researchers from the University of Tsukuba and Osaka University in Japan developed a polymer coating that when applied to a standard metal catalyst accelerates the electrochemical CO2 conversion.

In wake of their findings, the research team reported that the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” no longer has to refer to single-use plastics, explaining that the new catalyst coating technique could be used to develop systems that recycle CO2 into useful compounds, such as formate, which can power fuel cell devices that provide green electricity.

In their study, researchers explained that when coating a porous tin (Sn) catalyst with polyethylene glycol (PEG), the polymer is able to facilitate CO2 transformation into a useful carbon-based fuel. Various polymers can capture CO2 molecules, and Sn catalysts are known to reduce CO2 to other molecules, like formate (HCOO-), which can be reused to power fuel cells.

Most recently, in a study conducted by current and former researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Concrete Sustainability Hub, a team looked at how concrete emissions could be reduced in U.S. buildings and pavements.

According to their findings, the team predicts that concrete buildings and pavement emissions could be reduced by roughly 50%, even as concrete use increases. Currently, concrete production is estimated to contribute around 1% of emissions in the nation and remains one of several carbon-intensive industries globally.

In predicting that the use of the material will only continue to increase in the future, researchers looked at how environmental impacts of concrete could be reduced.

To estimate how greenhouse gas reduction strategies could minimize the cumulative emissions of each sector and how they compare to national GHG reduction targets, researchers took extensive life-cycle assessments of the structures and pavements. In doing so, the team reported that if reduction strategies were implemented, the emissions for pavements and buildings between 2016 and 2050 could fall by up to 65% and 57%, respectively.

Additionally, the considered solutions would also enable concrete production for both sectors to attain carbon neutrality by 2050 and were close to reduction targets currently set by the Paris Climate Accords.


Tagged categories: AS; Asia Pacific; Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); Carbon dioxide; Carbon footprint; concrete; Emissions; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; Net Zero Energy ; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Technology

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.