Study in Progress

Developing a Research Agenda for Utilization of Gaseous Carbon Waste Streams

For more information on this study, visit the study page

Statement of Task

As part of the assessment and outlook for technologies to reuse carbon waste streams (including carbon dioxide, methane, and biogas) that are generated during power generation, bio-fuels production, and other industrial processes, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene a committee to conduct a comprehensive assessment of future research and development needs to aid in the development and commercialization of reuse technologies that can transform carbon waste streams using biological and catalytic methods into products such as chemicals, fuels, polymers, and/or aggregates that can replace existing products at a reasonable cost and a net lifecycle reduction of greenhouse (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere. The committee will write a report that will:

1. Assess the global status and progress of carbon utilization technologies (both chemical and biological) in practice today that utilize waste carbon from power generation, bio-fuels production, and other industrial processes.
2. Identify emerging technologies and approaches for carbon utilization.
3. Analyze the factors associated with making technologies viable at a commercial scale, including, economics, market factors, energy and lifecycle requirements, scale, and other factors.
4. Develop a set of criteria to assess the extent that a utilization technology addresses the factors identified in Task (3) and apply the criteria to technologies identified in Tasks (1) and (2).
5. Assess the major technical challenges associated with increasing the commercial viability of carbon dioxide reuse technologies and identify the research and development questions that will address those challenges.
6. Assess current research efforts, including basic, applied, engineering and computational, that are addressing these challenges and identify gaps in the current research portfolio.
7. Develop a comprehensive research agenda that addresses both long- and short-term research needs and opportunities.

The report will provide guidance to research sponsors, as well as research communities in academia and industry regarding key challenges needed to advance the science and engineering required to enable carbon utilization at a commercial scale. The report will not include recommendations related to funding, government organization, or policy issues.