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As I mentioned in a previous editorial,1 it is largely economic and political forces that have prevented widespread deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS). While incremental progress and especially breakthroughs, particularly in gas separation and capture technology, will help address the economic barriers inhibiting greater interest in CCS, it is clear that additional economic drivers could go a long way toward making CCS deliver on its promise of significantly mitigating anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The most obvious way to change around the economics of anthropogenic CO2 capture would be to find and develop utilization opportunities for CO2. While there are many potential uses for CO2 (as outlined by Damiani et al. in a previous issue),2 the largest single potential use currently in North America is widely understood to be for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Building a business case for CO2 capture that includes utilization as well as storage was the theme for the 11th Annual Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) conference last year in Pittsburgh USA, which, for the first time, included utilization in the conference name. This change in emphasis from pure storage to utilization and storage in general, and to CO2-EOR in particular, does not obviate the need for research in storage; far from it. In fact, combining utilization and storage optimally for CO2-EOR requires detailed knowledge and understanding of the multiphase flow and miscibility processes in three-phase CO2-oil-brine systems. And, of course, the same breakthroughs in technology on the capture side are present whether pure storage or utilization and storage are the objectives.

Because this latest CCUS conference was the first in which the US Department of Energy laid out the business case for CO2-EOR, it will take another year or more for new research focused on CO2-EOR to start to appear at the conference. Nevertheless, we wanted to start highlighting research from this annual conference now and look forward to future focus on utilization research in particular. To this end, this special issue of Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology is a collection of papers from the best oral or poster presentations at the conference, as nominated by delegates. The papers span a wide range of topics representative of the wide scope of this annual CCUS conference.

Approaches to capture are discussed by Pan et al. who provide a technical economic analysis of CO2 capture by an anti-sublimation process.3 The paper by Feldpausch-Parker et al. outlines a novel approach to education. It introduces an educational video game, which uses melodrama to create an understanding of CO2 as the villain and humans as heroes through participation in mitigation strategies, to try to address some of the opposing ideologies to CCS.4 This is followed by an article by Begag et al. who have been working with superhydrophobic amine functionalized aerogels as sorbents for CO2 capture.5

The very real issues of reservoir management and leakage, that are relevant to pure storage as well as utilization and storage, are addressed in the papers by Cunningham et al.6 and Elliot et al.,7 and safety distances for pipeline transportation of carbon dioxide are estimated in the paper by Mazzoldi et al.8

Finally an economic evaluation of offshore storage potential in the US exclusive economic zone is put forward by Eccles and Pratson.9


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