ExxonMobil: Decarbonizing industry with carbon capture and storage

In a wide-ranging Q&A, Joe Blommaert, the head of ExxonMobil’s Low Carbon Solutions business, explains how his team is working to commercialize and deploy technologies to help lower global emissions and fight the impact of climate change.

Raised in the Netherlands, Joe Blommaert experienced firsthand what creative thinking and bold engineering could achieve. He saw how the dikes and canals protected the land from the North Sea: no small feat, considering that a third of the country lies below sea level.

“I love engineering,” Blommaert explains. “You get to solve big challenges by combining scientific principles with outside-the-box thinking.”

And today, as president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, Blommaert uses that same mindset to tackle another big feat: helping address the challenges of climate change by deploying technologies to capture and safely store carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

At the heart of this effort is working to scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) in two hard-to-decarbonize industries – manufacturing from heavy industry and power generation. Combined, these two sectors account for about 70% of the world’s emissions, and capturing those emissions could go a long way in helping to meet the world’s climate targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Having captured more human-made CO2 around the world than anyone else, the company is well positioned to develop and scale up deployment of CCS solutions.

ExxonMobil is also researching several promising innovations with outside organizations, including direct air capture technology to scrub emissions out of the air, and carbonate fuel cells to capture industrial emissions   from flue gas streams of power plants or manufacturing facilities.

Blommaert and his team are looking to commercialize and deploy a portfolio of these breakthrough decarbonization technologies as part of their efforts to reduce industrial emissions. It is meticulous work, centered on complex technology at a massive scale, and involving a growing network of stakeholders. Progress is measured in months and years, instead of days and weeks.

Earlier this year, Low Carbon Solutions also proposed a collaboration involving government agencies, academia and industry to develop a CCS initiative along the Houston Ship Channel. When fully operational, the concept could capture and permanently store about 100 million metric tons of CO2 annually by 2040.

Blommaert recently took some time to talk about the Low Carbon Solutions business and what ExxonMobil is doing to help lower emissions and drive decarbonization around the world.

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