Frequently Asked Questions
What is BiCRS?
Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage (BiCRS) is a process that captures carbon emissions from organic material and permanently stores the carbon geologically or in durable products. BiCRS uses proven technology that holds significant potential in industries and processes where reaching net zero is considered difficult, such as biomass or biogas plants, wastewater treatment plants and waste incineration plants.
Why is carbon dioxide removal important?
It is essential that we drastically reduce global carbon emissions to meet global climate commitments. The latest climate science tells us that emission reductions alone will not be enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C and to reach net zero. We must also remove billions of tons of excess CO₂ from the atmosphere.
In the near term, carbon removals can help reduce net emissions. In the medium term, removals can counterbalance residual emissions, especially in hard-to-abate sectors, to reach net zero. In the longer term, if removals exceed emissions, removals can achieve net-negative emissions and reverse some of the emissions overshoot.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon removal is necessary in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Achieving global net zero (the balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals) by 2050, will require carbon removals in the order of 100–1000 gigatonnes of CO₂ over the course of this century.
What is the difference between carbon removal and carbon capture?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to technologies that capture CO₂ emissions from a point-source, before they are released into the atmosphere. The carbon is then transported and permanently stored. If this carbon is of fossil origin (from fossil fuels), this is a form of emissions reduction.
This is distinct from the capture and storage of biogenic carbon emissions, which is considered emissions removal, as the carbon comes from the atmosphere (via biomass) and can therefore result in a negative emission.
For an illustration of their differences, check out this graphic developed by Carbon Gap.
What kind of emitters are you working with?
Airfix works with any emitter of biogenic CO₂ (CO₂ from organic materials). This can include waste incineration plants, biomass plants, biogas plants and wastewater treatment plants.
What is the potential of BiCRS compared to other carbon removal technologies?
There is huge potential for BiCRS – globally and in Europe. A study combining process engineering with geospatial assessment found that up to ~200,000,000 tCO₂ of biogenic origin could be removed every year in Europe. This represents 5% of the region’s emissions in 2018.
Another report suggests that with an ambitious deployment, BiCRS could, by 2050, remove up to 800,000,000 tCO₂ from the atmosphere every year in Europe, using available sustainable biomass.
Why should I buy carbon removal credits today rather than tomorrow?
Companies can account for their unavoidable emissions by buying carbon credits from certified mitigation contribution activities that not only avoid, reduce and/or remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, but also support communities’ economic and social well-being and sustainable development, protect ecosystems and enhance worldwide technology transfer, education and partnerships.
Carbon removal carbon credits are measurable, verifiable emission removals from certified climate action projects, which durably remove greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the atmosphere. Projects must adhere to a rigorous set of criteria to pass verification by third-party auditors and a review by a panel of experts at a leading carbon offset standard that is sanctioned by ICROA (International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Association), such as Verra or Gold Standard. After a company or an individual buys a carbon credit, the credit is permanently retired in an approved registry, so it can’t be reused.
By buying carbon removal credits, companies are also channelling vital climate finance to nascent markets and technologies that need to scale exponentially to reduce costs per tonne. Carbon removal credit buyers are therefore not only contributing to the deployment of highly-needed new technologies but also positioning themselves as climate leaders to their stakeholders.
Additionally, international best-practice initiatives and frameworks, such as the Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting, stress that the share of carbon removal credits (nature-based and technology-based) within corporate carbon credit portfolios needs to increase to 100% by the target year of reaching net zero. Only from then can carbon removal credits, also called negative emissions, be used to ‘neutralise’ any unavoidable carbon emission.
How can I buy a carbon removal credit?
If you are interested in buying BiCRS removal credits from Airfix, you can contact our Head of Business Development Eva Van der Want at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Where are you operating?
We are currently collaborating with a network of partners across Europe. Most of the biogenic emitters we work with are based in Switzerland, Germany, France and the UK. The nature of carbon transport and storage means we work with a range of partners along the value chain. From the source of emission all the way to storage sites, we work in regional clusters to accelerate market-making across Europe.
What technology are you using to capture CO₂?
The projects in our current pipeline use a post-combustion amine-based absorption process, arguably one of the most efficient, advanced and widely-adopted approaches to capture carbon at a point source.
There are many types of CO₂ capture technologies, some of which have been commercially available for decades.Chemical absorption and physical separation of CO₂ are the most common, but others include membrane separation, chemical looping and direct separation. More information on these technologies is provided here.
What technology are you using to store CO₂?
Our projects will store CO₂ geologically, by injection into deep underground rock formations. A potential CO₂ storage location for Airfix projects could be Northern Lights’ deep sea storage site in Norway, over 100 kilometres from the shore at a depth of 2,600 metres.
Carbon dioxide storage operations follow very strict engineering and safety protocols to ensure safe and efficient storage. A more detailed explanation of this is provided in the next question. For further reference read the Clean Air Task Force on carbon capture.
How can I be sure that the CO₂ is actually stored?
Geologic storage, also known as carbon sequestration, is a safe and reliable form of storing CO₂ deep underground. It is a well-established practice that is highly engineered and strictly regulated, and has been in safe, commercial operation for decades.
CO₂ sequestered in geological formation is stored at timescales of millenia (thousands of years!), making it one of the most durable forms of carbon storage. Sites are carefully selected and operated by the storage providers, who ensure the continued storage and monitoring of carbon. Responsibilities for making sure the carbon is secured are eventually transferred to public authorities.
For further reference: In 2005, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report about the limited risk of carbon dioxide leakage associated with geologic storage. Regulations in the EU also exist to ensure that sites are adequately monitored for safety. The European Commission’s CCS Directive is the main legislative package that details how carbon dioxide storage can be done in the EU. It provides strict rules to ensure that carbon dioxide storage sites are strictly monitored on a regular basis. Under Article 13 of the CCS Directive, Member States must ensure that storage sites are monitored, while Article 14 outlines that storage operators must report to the competent authorities at least once per year, how well the storage site is operating. Furthermore, Article 15 provides that Member States shall ensure that storage sites are subject to frequent inspections.
Why is Swiss CO₂ not stored in Switzerland?
Europe has significant geologic resources for storing CO₂, in saline aquifers across the region, as well as in depleted oil and gas fields, for example in the North Sea. However, these resources are unequally distributed, which means some countries have much higher resources than others. There is a strong need for cross-border cooperation to establish CO₂ transport and storage networks.
While Switzerland is fortunate enough to have some (limited) theoretical storage capacity, much research and development is still needed before these sites are ready to store CO₂. According to a report in May 2022 by the Federal Office for the Environment on “CO₂ capture and storage (CCS) and negative emissions (NET)”, a national exploration program will be developed in 2023.
Does it make sense to store CO₂, why not use it instead?
It is possible to use CO₂ that has been captured instead of storing it, for example in products, plastics or fuels. However, this means that the carbon it contains will eventually be re-emitted into the atmosphere. When the CO₂ is instead permanently sequestered, we prevent the carbon from going back into the atmosphere, where it would contribute further to climate change. Storing biogenic CO₂, like Airfix does, contributes to lowering the absolute concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere and reversing global warming.
How energy- and carbon-intensive is the process of capturing, transporting and storing CO₂?
Removing carbon from the atmosphere requires a lot of energy at every stage of the value chain. The CO₂ separation and CO₂ compression or liquefaction stages are particularly energy-intensive. Transporting CO₂ over large distances also generates its own emissions, by using trucks, rail and ship. In order to ensure we have a net-zero or net-positive system, it is crucial to account for all emissions throughout the carbon value chain. This means including the upstream and downstream emissions associated with the supply chain – all the emissions generated throughout the CO₂ capture, transport and storage processes. The net removal is permanently stored atmospheric CO₂ minus associated emissions, as this is the amount by which the CDR process decreases atmospheric CO₂.
More details on how carbon can be captured, transported and stored are available in the latest IPCC report. It’s important to note that extracting CO₂ from the atmosphere almost always requires more energy and effort than preventing its initial release.