Case Study

Carbon Clean │ delivering industrial decarbonisation

Carbon Clean was founded in 2009 with the aim of developing cost-effective carbon capture solutions for heavy industries, as part of global efforts to reduce global emissions. Today, the company is leading a modular revolution in point source carbon capture. This new generation of standardised, compact carbon capture technology will be vital to achieving the levels of carbon capture deployment needed to reach net zero.

Headquartered in London, Carbon Clean’s solutions have already captured over 1.9m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. We spoke to Iain Tobin, Chief Corporate Officer and CFO, about the important and rapidly growing role that carbon capture will play in helping combat climate change.

What does your company do?

We are a global leader in carbon capture solutions with a particular focus on ‘hard to abate’ industries such as refineries, steel, cement and energy from waste. These are industries that are typically emitting large amounts of CO2 and where there are limited options for reducing these CO2 emissions.

We have been addressing this industrial decarbonisation challenge for over a decade by designing, building and operating carbon capture technologies. Our technology has been used in 49 sites around the world and has been selected by industry leaders including CEMEX, Chevron, Ørsted and Tata Steel.

But what we are really excited about is our new modular solution which is called CycloneCC. This goes a long way to addressing several challenges that have prevented the widespread adoption of carbon capture – space limitations on site and cost concerns. At the heart of this innovative technology are rotating packed beds, which use a centrifugal force which enhances the CO2 absorption process. By introducing something that is mass-produced at scale and volume, costs fall dramatically. It’s also up to 50% smaller than conventional carbon capture units, and uses much less steel. This, combined with efficiency improvements, means the overall cost of carbon capture is reduced by up to 50%, with no loss in performance.

Ultimately this leads to a much lower cost per tonne capture rate over the lifetime of the unit. We are rolling out the first CycloneCC industrial units now and we consider this to be a big game changer.

What role will new technology solutions like carbon capture play in the transition to net zero?

Industrial emissions account for about 30% of global emissions or about 10bn tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. We are focused on these emissions. As an industry, the International Energy Agency and others believe we’ve got to capture 0.5bn tonnes of CO2 every year from 2030 to 2050, if we are to meet the 1.5oC target. So far, there is only approximately 50m tonnes of annual capture capacity worldwide so this shows you how much we need to address this issue.

The UK Government's incentives - financial as well as regulatory - are making it easier to capture and store CO2.

Carbon Clean is one of only a handful of companies that have technologies to achieve this, so we are going to have to grow very fast.

Obviously there are other decabonisation technologies but, for many industrial companies, point source carbon capture offers the only currently available means of tackling their hard-to-abate process emissions. If we are going to meet net zero targets by 2050, then carbon capture is going to play a major role.


Visit our sustainable finance hub

Visit our sustainable finance hub

Why is the UK a good place to operate your business?

The UK is a great place to be based. We have a clear government commitment to support the development of four storage clusters by 2030; £20bn in funding for CCS deployment committed from the public sector; and a ready-to-go policy framework in the Energy Bill.

I think the UK has a fantastic pool of talent. We’ve got a great tradition here in terms of technology and energy transition in terms of resources and skills. So, for us bringing people in, it’s been useful having that skills base available.

The UK offers great carbon storage potential given the number of depleted oil and gas wells in the North Sea. We also have perfect geology for long term CO2 storage in the North Sea. The cluster projects, that the UK government has backed, will use existing pipelines to transport CO2 from different industries and plants out to these depleted wells.

Being headquartered in the UK also gives us great access to financial markets. Carbon Clean has raised over $195m to date, including a $150m Series C announced in May 2022. Venture capital investment in UK cleantech was £3.2 billion in 2022, equalling the record-breaking amounts of 2021, so it’s fast becoming a leader in clean tech and a great place for us to be based.

The UK also has a fantastic pool of talent. In particular, the UK offers a highly skilled workforce across the energy sector. We have doubled in size in the past year and expect to become a significant employer as we continue to scale. In general, CCUS in the UK has the potential to protect up to 77,000 skilled jobs and create a further 70,000 jobs as the UK transitions towards a clean energy future. It’s a really good place to be.

What are your growth plans?

We’ve got 132 people today but that’s figure is rapidly rising. We have doubled headcount already since April last year and we are looking to increase our headcount somewhere between 60% and 80% per annum in the years ahead. That will be in both the UK and our overseas offices.

To accommodate our growth, we’re moving to a fantastic new London headquarters in early October. Earlier this year we opened our new US headquarters in Houston and we are developing a new Innovation Centre in India, which will include our own testing facilities.

We have an exciting roadmap of new technologies coming down the track. Our focus now is rolling out our CycloneCC range of modular carbon capture units. Because it’s modular, the emitter can start with one size and add more in line with their decarbonisation targets. This provides a lot more flexibility to allow a company to build capacity over time, potentially alongside other decarbonisation measures.

We think the 2050 climate targets are achievable, but we need to get on with it. There is no time to waste.

Stay in touch

Sign up to our mailing list to make sure you're the first to hear about news, reports, and events relating to financial and professional services from the City of London Corporation. 

Sign up now

Related content