The Project


To avoid increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases that raise the Earth's average temperature and thus contribute to climate change, we need to find a way to prevent carbon dioxide emissions from CO2-intensive industries from escaping into the atmosphere. The rapid scale-up and deployment of more cost-effective and sustainable carbon capture solutions is one effective way. Solvent-based carbon capture is an important technology that can be readily adopted to many emission sources. Such technology can achieve high capture rates and deliver CO2 at high purity with a relatively low energy demand.

The AURORA project (funded by the European Union’s HORIZON EUROPE research and innovation programme) which started in January 2023, will make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of industry by demonstrating and qualifying an advanced and innovative solvent-based CO2 capture technology named CESAR1 for large-scale cost-efficient integration. The technology will be demonstrated at TRL7-8 (Technology readiness level) in at least three CO2-intensive industries: refining, cement, and materials recycling, as sectors where other alternatives towards climate neutrality do not exist yet.

While the three sectors are diverse in themselves in terms of e.g., flue gas composition and conditions, transferability to other types of industries is additionally ensured through this capture technology which can easily be adapted for implementation under other conditions.

Our objectives

Increase cost-efficiency by 50%

Increase controllability and flexibility

Increase environmental performance

Ensure safe full CCUS chains

Increase social awareness on climate change & mitigation technologies


There are currently various carbon capture routes, which fall into three categories: pre-combustion, post-combustion and oxy-combustion processes. As post-combustion is the easiest way to integrate carbon capture into existing plants, it has been widely developed in recent years and is well placed for large-scale deployment. Whereas solid adsorbents and membrane systems struggle to achieve the combined target of 90% capture rate and 95% purity, chemical absorption processes can achieve even higher CO2 capture rates than the 90% currently deployed, and even close to 100% without significantly increasing the relative heat input. What's more, the purity of the CO2 produced in these systems is intrinsically high (over 99%). However, absorption-based technology needs to be improved, mainly to reduce costs while guaranteeing the absence of any significant environmental impact.

Therefore, in order to rapidly translate research and innovation into impacts and enable the adoption of CCUS in CO2-intensive industries in a short timeframe, AURORA partners will optimize and qualify a non-proprietary solvent (CESAR1) and its associated process, and bring them to a level from which first-of-a-kind plants can be considered as the next step. This will be achieved due to the following innovations:

Holistic optimisation of solvent composition, process design, emission monitoring and control, and solvent management.

Validated models for use in commercial process simulators.

Enhanced waste heat integration with carbon capture for reduced external heat demand and operational costs.

Improved and integrated advanced control system for reduced OPEX and optimised performances.

These innovations will be integrated into four optimized capture processes, and various aspects will be demonstrated in pilot projects of varying size and complexity. The partners will ensure the transferability of the results to other CO2-intensive industries, thanks to the wide range of CO2 sources and developed groups addressed in the project, as well as the strong involvement of stakeholders. The project will also carry out comprehensive evaluations of the CCUS chain for its end-users. It should be noted that the end-users are located in two different regions of Europe, offering different conditions for the implementation of CCUS value chains.

Expected results

Capture rates at 98%

Capture costs reduced by at least 47% compared to MEA solvent

Negligible environmental impact

Transferability of results to other CO2 intensive industries ensured.

Complete and validated system towards first-of-a-kind capture plants.

CESAR 1 solvent

The CESAR1 solvent was named after the FP7 CESAR project (2008-2011), in which the aqueous mixture of 2-Amino-2-Methyl-1-Propanol (AMP) and piperazine (PZ) was first studied. The CESAR1 solvent repeatedly outperformed the reference MEA solvent technology in pilot tests. CESAR1 has good energy performance, low degradation rates, can achieve very high capture rates and is easier to use in flexible modes. Like most solvent technologies, CESAR1 has the advantage of being easily adaptable to almost any flue gas source.

CESAR1 has undergone extensive pilot testing, and AURORA’s partners are convinced that the technology can be deployed commercially. However, the technology still needs to undergo full optimization and technological qualification for commercial deployment. AURORA aims to offer a complete, validated system (technological maturity level TRL8) that can be easily exploited by the stakeholders concerned.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the European Union’s framework program for research and innovation for the period from 2021 to 2027. Horizon Europe takes over from Horizon 2020, which ends at the end of 2020.

Its general objectives are to:

  • strengthen the Union’s scientific and technological foundations
  • to stimulate its competitiveness, including that of its industry
  • to give concrete expression to the Union’s strategic political priorities
  • to contribute to meeting global challenges, including the objectives of sustainable development.


Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), also referred to as carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration, is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere.