Selecting CO2 Sources for CO2 Utilization by Environmental-Merit-Order Curves

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Feb 2;50(3):1093-101. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b03474. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Capture and utilization of CO2 as alternative carbon feedstock for fuels, chemicals, and materials aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil resource use. For capture of CO2, a large variety of CO2 sources exists. Since they emit much more CO2 than the expected demand for CO2 utilization, the environmentally most favorable CO2 sources should be selected. For this purpose, we introduce the environmental-merit-order (EMO) curve to rank CO2 sources according to their environmental impacts over the available CO2 supply. To determine the environmental impacts of CO2 capture, compression and transport, we conducted a comprehensive literature study for the energy demands of CO2 supply, and constructed a database for CO2 sources in Europe. Mapping these CO2 sources reveals that CO2 transport distances are usually small. Thus, neglecting transport in a first step, we find that environmental impacts are minimized by capturing CO2 first from chemical plants and natural gas processing, then from paper mills, power plants, and iron and steel plants. In a second step, we computed regional EMO curves considering transport and country-specific impacts for energy supply. Building upon regional EMO curves, we identify favorable locations for CO2 utilization with lowest environmental impacts of CO2 supply, so-called CO2 oases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Carbon Sequestration*
  • Environment*
  • Europe
  • Greenhouse Effect


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon