Professor Alex Cowan, University of Liverpool — The future of carbon dioxide

How carbon capture and reuse can support net-zero manufacturing and a circular economy.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, mostly known as a waste product from the combustion of fossil fuels. But what if waste CO2 could be captured and reused for sustainable applications in net-zero manufacturing? It is used across many industries particularly food and beverage, as well as the chemicals industry.

Unfortunately, there is a considerable mismatch between the amount of CO2 we produce and the amount we use – with production reaching gigatonnes per year, whilst utilisation remains at the megatonnes-scale. 

The UK has already made efforts to lower its carbon emissions by decarbonising electricity and improving energy efficiency and this remains a priority. However, some CO2 sources are likely to persist in generating waste CO2 for the foreseeable future which will need to be captured, such as in steel and cement manufacture, and for some applications like aviation fuels, the only viable short term approach is carbon-based fuels, making it important that ways to generate these with a negative carbon footprint are found to offset the CO2 inevitably released to the atmosphere after combustion. Read more