KR Decarbonization Magazine

VOL.06 | Spring 2024

Status of OCCS Technology Development and Economic Viability

Interview with CHEON Sang-gyu, Head of the Research Institute at PANASIA


Carbon capture technology is becoming one of the most important technologies for reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as regulations to decarbonize intensify. In the shipping industry, numerous researchers have been focusing on the development and implementation of on-board carbon capture systems (OCCS) on ships. OCCS presents an attractive solution for reducing GHG emissions by directly capturing carbon dioxide from ship exhaust.

Several companies in Korea are actively developing OCCS, with PANASIA leading the way. PANASIA has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with KR, HMM, and Samsung Heavy Industries, positioning itself to be the first to apply OCCS in Korea. In this issue, we interviewed Cheon Sang-gyu, Head of the Research Institute at PANASIA, to discuss the OCCS development process, core technologies, demonstration plans, and prospects for commercialization from various perspectives.


Q. Could you please tell us what prompted PANASIA to start developing OCCS?

A The shipbuilding industry is currently focused on decarbonization, and OCCS is seen as a promising technology for achieving this goal. Since we have experience and technology for scrubbers, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems, and Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS), we believed that leveraging our expertise and experience in post-treatment equipment like scrubbers and SCR could lead to the development of a competitive OCCS. This encouraged our decision in developing OCCS.

Q. Could you share your current progress in the development of OCCS?

A As the International Maritime Organization (IMO) initiated discussions on OCCS, we started a joint development project with Samsung Heavy Industries in 2020. We have installed an HFO engine and OCCS on a barge for testing and successfully completed its verification. This June, in collaboration with HMM and KR, the developed OCCS will be installed on a 2.1K container ship for real-ship verification.

Q. What are the primary functions and key technologies of OCCS?

A The core technology of OCCS is the absorbent. We have developed the optimal absorbent by mixing additional chemicals into the already proven amine-based absorbent and continuously improving it. It is possible to capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide in the inhaled exhaust by absorbing a certain amount from the total exhaust generated by the ship. The maximum scale that can be applied to ships at this time is 3 tons of carbon dioxide per hour. The project applied to the actual ship will be able to capture and store 1 ton of carbon dioxide per hour, saving approximately 14% of the total carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, our OCCS for ships is composed of a multi-stage absorption tower and a scrubbing tower in one piece to minimize the volume and height of the space.

Q. How much additional energy does OCCS consume?

A Minimizing the energy required for capturing and liquifying, particularly the regeneration heat, is crucial for OCCS. Typically, it requires about 40% additional energy. Therefore, for a carbon capture performance of 1 ton/hour, the net capture rate is approximately 0.6 ton/hour, after accounting for the energy consumed.

Q. That seems quite energy-intensive. Is there a way to reduce the energy consumption for CO₂ capture?

A Yes, by utilizing cold heat or waste heat generated onboard through heat exchange, we can enhance efficiency. Especially with LNG propulsion, the cold heat from LNG can significantly reduce the system’s energy input, making the OCCS more effective and reducing the need for regeneration heat. Additionally, LNG produces less CO₂ compared to other fuels, offering the advantage of reducing the OCCS system size.

Q. Cost-effectiveness is a major concern for shipowners. How do you assess the economic viability of OCCS?

A It's challenging due to uncertainties and varies by ship type. The CAPEX for a 1 ton/hour capture and storage facility is estimated to be between 7.7M to 1.1M dollars, depending on the OCCS size. Economic viability must be analyzed by comparing it with potential carbon taxes, taking into account the cargo reduction for each ship type. Analyzing the lifetime costs of installing OCCS on LNG versus using carbon-free fuels like ammonia is also necessary to determine the most cost-effective approach. Given the current uncertainties, it’s difficult to assert confidently, but we estimate that the carbon tax should be over $200 per ton of CO₂ to be viable. Precise economic analysis and further considerations, such as cost reductions through mass production, are needed. We also plan to utilize the captured CO₂ in industrial applications, such as CO₂ welding. The acceptance of this approach’s carbon reduction effect by the international organizations remains uncertain, but it could enhance the system’s economic feasibility if recognized.

Q. KR is also performing economic analyses on alternative fuels, highlighting the importance of fuel price and carbon tax uncertainties. Collaborating on economic analyses in the future could be beneficial. Will this demonstration include an economic analysis?

A Thank you for the suggestion. The primary focus of this demonstration will be on performance and safety. A preliminary economic analysis will also be conducted. However, HMM’s main concern is improving the CII rating. Since storing more CO₂ increases cargo reduction, we plan to load approximately two 20-feet containers. The vessel will primarily operate on short routes, such as Korea to Asia.

Q. What is your perspective on the outlook for OCCS?

A Technologically, I don’t see any critical challenges with the development of OCCS. Economically, I believe the future of OCCS will depend on the IMO’s decision regarding the recognition of GHG reduction and the pricing of alternative fuels, among other factors. For ships that face challenges in converting to alternative fuels but have a long service life ahead, I see OCCS as a promising alternative.

Thank you for sharing valuable insights on OCCS for our readers today. We extend our best wishes for a successful demonstration.


Considerations to how to reflect onboard CO₂ capture in various IMO instruments

MEPC 81 considered the proposals relating to the onboard CO₂ capture system as follows:

1. Initiating Study on Onboard Carbon Capture System Regulation

Given the historical background that demonstrates the broad experience that has been gained in the study and development of guidelines for the regulation of EGCS, it is proposed to initiate the study of onboard carbon capture system to develop the relevant regulation for residues and/or emission, as well as the transportation, storage and disposal at reception facilities.

2. Developing Workstreams for Onboard CO₂ Capture within IMO's Framework

As part of the development of a work plan to accommodate onboard CO₂ capture within IMO’s regulatory framework, it is proposed to review the current IMO regulatory framework for the development of new workstreams on onboard CO₂ capture, including:

Regulations in MARPOL Annex VI as appropriate

Guidelines for testing, surveying and certification of onboard CO₂ capture systems

Guidelines for the development and approval of a ship CO₂ management plan

Form of the CO₂ record book

An approval or certification/accreditation scheme for CO₂ terminals to ensure that the CO₂ is not emitted to the atmosphere; and safe storage and utilization of CO₂ which is consistent with international environmental law and standards.

3. Draft Amendments for EEDI and CII Calculation Reflecting Onboard CO₂ Capture

Draft amendments to technical guidelines related to EEDI and CII calculation for reflecting GHG reduction effect from onboard CO₂ capture system.

4. Newly Proposed MEPC Circular on CO₂ Receipt Note Format

A newly proposed MEPC Circular on sample format for the information to be included in the CO₂ receipt note, providing evidence for the quantity of CO₂ delivered ashore.

Agreement on Establishing a Correspondence Group for
the Development of Regulatory Framework
for Onboard Carbon Capture Utilization!

In reviewing the proposals, there was a preference towards prioritizing efforts to incentivize the adoption of zero or near-zero emission fuels, rather than focusing on onboard CO₂ capture, due to the latter’s technical immaturity and associated safety concerns. As a result, MEPC 81 couldn’t reach a consensus on how to incorporate onboard CO₂ capture within the IMO regulatory framework due to the various views expressed that a more holistic approach was needed as part of the further development of the LCA framework.

However, considering that onboard CO₂ capture can play an important role in the reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping, MEPC 81 agreed to establish a correspondence group to develop a work plan on the development of a regulatory framework for the use of onboard CO₂ capture.