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The Journey to Reduce Shipping Emissions: Capbrane at the IVC

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The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

The Journey to Reduce Shipping Emissions: Capbrane at the IVC

The Journey to Reduce Shipping Emissions: Capbrane at the IVC

Modern ships have an immense but often overlooked environmental impact. As transportation giants, ships consume an astounding 20,000 times more fuel than cars Globally, shipping ranks as the sixth-largest CO2 emitter at 1.2 metric Gigatonnes of CO2 annually, which can melt sea ice area equivalent to 30 times the size of Paris each year. This striking figure highlights the profound environmental and social impacts of maritime industry emissions.

Simply stopping shipping operations isn't a viable solution. The pandemic showed how integral shipping is to our global economy. Industries and trade heavily rely on shipping's expansive network and efficiency to meet growing demand. One major challenge in the transition to sustainable development models is how to meet this demand while minimizing impacts to people and the planet. 

Team Capbrane took on this challenge in the 2023 INSEAD Venture Competition. Twice a year, the IVC opens space for degree programme students to pitch a start-up concept and business model. In June 2023, Team Capbrane won the Impact Prize sponsored by the Hoffmann Institute at the 46th IVC by developing and pitching an innovative carbon capture solution tailored to the shipping industry. 

The Capbrane Concept

Team Capbrane is made up of three members with a clear vision to confront CO2 emissions, Iris Zhao MBA'23J, Feb Hillman and Marion Becker. The innovative Capbrane concept can be traced back to a poignant moment in Warsaw that deeply resonated with Iris. She encountered a mural vividly depicting environmental strain – a child's lungs made up of vehicular emissions – which ignited a realization about the profound impact of shipping on our planet's health.   


Motivated by this awakening, the team dedicated themselves to developing an innovative carbon capture solution for ships. Their journey was riddled with challenges. First was the challenge of designing the solution. They knew it had to be easy to deploy, efficient and cost effective, able to be scaled across the shipping industry.

The Capbrane solution seems simple. A CO2 storage module in a container is integrated into the ship’s exhaust system. In the container, a semi-permeable membrane captures CO2, while letting cleaner gases pass through. The containers are ‘plug and play’ and can be swapped out during docking. The captured and stored CO2 can be sold in the growing market for CO2-based fuels, chemicals and building materials. Although it seems simple, the science behind this technology and the market forces at work are quite complex. 

From Concept to Competition

The team found one primary obstacle in effectively explaining technical aspects of the Capbrane concept to a diverse audience. Through sage guidance and strategic partnerships, they distilled the intricate Capbrane technology into an accessible, user-friendly system. This simplification enabled them to explain the innovation concisely, facilitating broader understanding and garnering widespread support.

Navigating uncharted business terrain was the next frontier. Intensive economic modelling, strategic discussions with industry stakeholders and meticulous analysis enabled the team to formulate a pricing model that benefitted both ship owners and Capbrane, while projecting promising returns.

This concept and business model were taken to the IVC. The venture competition opened opportunity for Team Capbrane to hone their pitch and strategic focus, leveraging guidance from mentors and industry experts to refine their vision further. With groundbreaking technology, a team of experienced advisors, and a dedicated workforce, Capbrane is now positioned to create a profound and enduring green legacy.

By 2030, the team aims to close the shipping industry's net-zero gap by 12%, or 1.3 Gigatonnes of CO2 each year. The vision extends to 2050, where they anticipate widespread adoption of Capbrane technology on almost every ship. The team is also confident the concept can expand into larger carbon-emitting sectors, such as power plants and steel production. This reflects the Team Capbrane commitment to drive substantial change towards a sustainable future.

After winning the Impact Prize at the IVC, Capbrane garnered significant interest. The team secured MOUs and partnerships, major steps towards validation of concept and market entry.


Looking Ahead: The Path Forward

Today, Capbrane has evolved into Orica Chem Innovations. After graduation, the team built on the foundation put in place at the IVC while remaining steadfast in the commitment to spearhead decarbonization through innovation. This dedication motivated the team to take the technology to greater maturity, recognizing the need to advance to the higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL 7) before full commercialization.

Orica's vision now encompasses pioneering emission control solutions, including the Capbrane carbon capture innovation, with a strategic focus on the petrochemical industry in the Asia-Pacific region. This expansion facilitates a holistic approach to sustainable solutions across the value chain, from technical consulting to engineering, procurement, and construction project contracting.

Orica is poised to leverage mature products and lead Capbrane development while advancing innovative solutions in emission control. The team’s commitment remains unwavering – to revolutionize decarbonization, one innovation at a time. 

The team knows the road ahead is challenging, but the resolve of Orica Chem Innovations remains unyielding. With a vision anchored in pioneering change and a commitment to revolutionize decarbonization, the journey continues towards a greener, more sustainable future. 

From an idea sparked on the streets of Warsaw to winning the Social Impact Prize at the IVC, we can’t wait to see how this sustainability solution scales for positive impact in the shipping industry. 

The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society would like to thank the INSEAD Rudolph and Valeria Maag Centre for Entrepreneurship for hosting the INSEAD Venture Competition. We also want to recognize all teams who submitted entries into the IVC Impact category. The Institute looks forward to seeing more sustainability solutions at future editions of the IVC. 

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