Biofuels & Carbon Capture - How Do the Two Fit Together?

Need a refresher on Carbon Capture?

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) has been getting a lot of press for the last few years around the world. If you haven’t kept up with the excitement surrounding this technology, CCUS is a group of technologies that stop carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere, or remove what is already present (The CCUS Hub, 2024). Some tout it as the premiere solution for combatting CO2 emissions from oil & gas and other heavy industries, while others are skeptical due to its high cost and energy requirements. Nevertheless, it’s been proven as a viable option for the biofuels industry to both reduce carbon emissions and monetize captured carbon.


How do biofuels fit into the equation?

The increasing popularity of CCS in the United States to lower emissions from industry is being met with hype around applying CCS to ethanol producing facilities (ethanol is the most commonly produced biofuel). 

View an interactive map of ethanol plants in the United States here.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol biorefineries have the highest CO2 concentration and purity, and integrating carbon capture technologies into industrial facilities is easier in sectors where there is one singular CO2 emission source and waste gas streams have higher concentrations of CO2 (Lewis, 2022). Most other industries emit CO2 that’s mingled with other gasses, making the process more challenging.

Since extremely concentrated CO2 is released during ethanol fermentation and biofuel plants are smaller than those of other industries, the biofuels industry is looking like a perfect fit for incorporating CCS into their operations. Additionally, new tax credits for clean fuel production, making ethanol-based sustainable aviation fuel and for capturing carbon emissions to store or use make ethanol production even more economical.

We expect more CCS projects to come online to serve biofuel plants as corporations move to reduce their emissions and take advantage of new tax credits.


Biofuels offer low-hanging fruit in nascent carbon capture industry

By Amena H. Saiyid, Cipher, Mar. 13, 2024

Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage

International Energy Agency

Alaska CCUS Workgroup

Understanding CCUS

The CCUS Hub 

GAO Spotlights Ethanol Production as Prime Carbon Capture Opportunity

By Ann Lewis, Renewable Fuel Association, October 3, 2022

Why Ethanol Producers Should Look at CCS Now

Battelle Insider, January 24, 2021


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