Reliance focusing on carbon utilisation

When it comes to carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), with its extensive energy and petrochemicals interests, has much to weigh up in terms of business efficiency and future sustainability.

Drilling down into CCUS’ potential, RIL is focusing more on utilisation than storage, exploring how it can reuse captured carbon for internal industrial processes.

Speaking at India Energy Week in Goa this week – in comments reported by S&P Global Commodity Insights – PMS Prasad, Executive Director, said, “I have biogenic CO2 and when I have green hydrogen that’s the easiest way to go to green chemicals such as methanol and ammonia. Capture the carbon and fix it into the chemicals, not store it. That’s our approach to CCS.”

Reliance’s energy transition strategy involved making renewable components from scratch, be it the glass used in solar modules or the carbon composite material in wind turbines and blades or the electrolyser, with the end goal of greater efficiency.

Reliance, targeting Net Zero by 2035, is not prioritising any one technology, such as PEM, Alkaline, AEM or SOEC, but considering all technologies and working on them with a couple of partners, the report added.

In a recently released fourth quarter 2023 results statement, Reliance said KG D6 is now contributing 30% of India’s gas production.

R Cluster, Satellite Cluster, and MJ fields are together expected to produce 30 million metric standard cubic metres per day (MMSCMD) of gas by FY2024.

“Reliance has become the first Indian company to chemically recycle pyrolysis oil into circular polymers,” it stated. RIL shipped its first batch of ISCC-Plus certified Circular Polymers, CircuRepol™ (Polypropylene) and CircuRelene™ (Polyethylene), at the end of December.

RIL is making a big play on the energy transition too with its Energy Giga Complex, which is set to be commissioned in the second half of CY24, part of a $10bn investment in clean energy.

The 5,000-acre site will have gigafactories allocated to green hydrogen, energy storage, power electronics, PV panels and fuel cell systems.

The company claims it has already made ‘substantial progress’ on photosynthetic biological pathways to convert its CO2 emissions at Jamnagar into high-value proteins, nutraceuticals, advanced materials and fuels.

Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries, said, “I am confident that Reliance’s New Energy business will play a pivotal role in the global movement for adoption of cleaner fuels.”

A Niti Aayog report highlighted how CCUS has an important role to play in decarbonising India’s power sector, given its reliance on coal for meeting over 70% of its electricity needs.

It identified several promising utilisation pathways including green urea – which can be produced from captured CO2 and green hydrogen, which can replace or complement traditional LNG/natural gas based production and import of ammonia and urea; and in F&B applications, across carbonated drinks, dry ice and modified atmosphere packaging.
India’s urea production is about 24 Mtpa.

Other sectors with potential for utilisation include building materials, involving concrete curing and aggregate formation, where CO2 is injected in a liquid state without conversion, thus reducing energy requirements; and in chemicals (methanol and ethanol), where conversion of CO2 is proven at commercial scale.

Conversion of CO2 to various polymers, including bioplastics, presents another utilisation route, as does Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR); for carbon capture projects in India with proximity to oil fields, CO2 EOR can play a role in residual oil extraction.

India’s power and industrial sectors are sure to remain in the sustainable spotlight, since they contributed around 1,600 Mtpa of CO2 emissions (around 60%) out of the total emissions of 2,600 mtpa in 2020.

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