Woodside teams up with U.S. tech developers to turn greenhouse gases into decarbonised products

In a bid to curb Scope 1 and 2 emissions, decarbonise its operations, and achieve its climate change-related goals using lower-carbon solutions, Australia’s Woodside has joined forces with the U.S.-based technology developers, ReCarbon and LanzaTech, to transform greenhouse gases into new products without adding more carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere.

Illustration; Source: Woodside

Woodside informed on Friday that it had launched a collaborative studies programme with ReCarbon and LanzaTech, aimed at converting carbon emissions into useful products. To this end, the three players are investigating the viability of a proposed carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) pilot facility in Perth, Western Australia.

Meg O’Neill, Woodside CEO, described CCU as an exciting addition to the portfolio as it looked at carbon as an opportunity and resource, not just a challenge, adding: “What’s notable about CCU is the wider co-benefits. Some end products have a further decarbonisation benefit. Products such as ethanol can be used as raw materials in the chemical manufacturing industry. We also see a potential role for the technology in helping to abate some of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions.”

Turning CO2 and methane into ethanol

Furthermore, Woodside explained that the proposed pilot facility would recycle greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane into value-added ethanol using ReCarbon and Lanzatech’s technologies. To accomplish this, the ReCarbon technology would convert carbon dioxide and methane into synthesis gas, while the LanzaTech technology would ferment the synthesis gas into ethanol.

Since ethanol manufacture usually relies on land and water use for source crops, such as corn, Woodside believes that the CCU – as an emerging field with growing demand from existing and potential customers seeking alternative solutions for lower carbon – would reduce the reliance on these natural resources.

Dr. Jay Kim, ReCarbon Founder and CEO, welcomed the collaboration, stating: “The global energy and fuel sector is experiencing unprecedented transition. We are grateful to be selected as a leading technology solution to transform greenhouse gases into decarbonised products. Woodside is moving decisively by establishing real projects with its CCU initiative, and ReCarbon is proud to play our part.”

According to Woodside, the project is now in the front-end engineering design phase. In addition, Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator is currently leading a co-design process to develop a carbon capture use and storage method under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

ReCarbon developed a commercial proprietary microwave plasma technology applied to the conversion of greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – to syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide).

On the other hand, LanzaTech created a platform that converts waste carbon into new everyday products that would otherwise come from virgin fossil resources with the combination of synthetic biology, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and machine learning coupled with engineering. The firm’s first commercial-scale gas fermentation plant has produced over 30 million gallons of ethanol which is the equivalent of keeping over 150,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

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Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech CEO, noted the scale of the opportunity by remarking: “Waste carbon can be transformed into critical resources like ethanol without adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Together with Woodside and ReCarbon, we can create an opportunity to reuse greenhouse gases for meaningful applications.”

Moreover, Woodside elaborates that this collaboration and proposed pilot demonstrate its commitment to developing new energy products and lower-carbon services. Back in 2021, the Australian player set a $5 billion investment target by 2030 for new energy products and lower-carbon services such as hydrogen, renewables, and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).

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This target aims to enable Woodside to thrive through the energy transition by building a low-cost, lower-carbon, profitable, resilient, and diversified portfolio filled with hydrogen, ammonia and solar opportunities in Australia and internationally.

Some of Woodside’s new energy opportunities include the proposed hydrogen and ammonia projects H2Perth and H2TAS in Australia and the proposed hydrogen project H2OK in North America.