Carbon capture and sequestration / storage (CSS) is fast becoming a viable solution for reducing the impact carbon dioxide has on the climate crisis. Technology now exists that can prevent C02 emissions from entering the atmosphere, which also contributes to global heating. Many lawmakers are calling companies to take steps to redress the damage being done throughout the world by large scale industrial plants.
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It’s becoming critical to devise a long term action plan to minimize the C02 emissions being released and help fight climate breakdown.
What Is Carbon Capture?
CCS is the process of capturing and redeploying / storing C02 emissions using technology that does not damage the environment. CCS technologies have the capabilities to significantly reduce C02 emissions in energy systems.
There are several different technologies that can be used to capture C02 at the source and they fall under three categories.
This is the primary method typically used by existing power plants.Post-combustion carbon capture, CO₂ is separated from the exhaust of a combustion process.
According to RFF, there are commercially available pre-combustion capture technologies used by industrial facilities; however, for power plants, pre-combustion capture is still in early stages. This technology involves gasifying fuel and separating out the CO₂. It may be less costly than other options; however, it can only be built into new facilities—to retrofit an existing facility for pre-combustion capture would be prohibitively costly.
Fuel is burned in a nearly pure-oxygen environment, rather than regular air, which results in a more concentrated stream of CO₂ emissions, which is easier to capture.
After the C02 has been captured, it gets compressed into a fluid and taken to the designated storage site, typically by pipelines and / or ships.
In the final step, the C02 is injected into deep, underground geological formations, where it is stored long term, preventing further damage to the environment.
It has been suggested that some of the carbon captured could be used in the future to help make plastics, grow greenhouse plants, or even carbonate fizzy drinks.
Where Is Carbon Capture Being Used?
Around the world there are around 20 commercial carbon capture projects. Although this is a very small number and not enough to significantly impact the crackdown on climate change, its a start.
The US, Canada, Norway and China are the early front runners of these pilot schemes. Even though there are only a handful of projects currently, according to the IEA, 30 new projects have been agreed upon in the past three years.
The Benefits of Carbon Capture
By harnessing CCS technologies, according to the IEA, projects could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by almost a fifth and reduce the cost of tackling the climate crisis by 70%.
One of the key benefits to CCS is that it supports industries that would struggle to transition to renewable energy, such as fertiliser producers, steel mills and cement makers. CCS also unlocks the potential of hydrogen, which has added benefits.
According to The Guardian, Hydrogen is a clean-burning gas that could be used to replace fossil fuels in planes, trains, trucks, factories and even in home heating. But without carbon capture being used to produce hydrogen from fossil fuel gas, carbon emissions would be released into the atmosphere. Hydrogen could still be made by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gases using a renewable energy powered electrolyser machine, but this would be far more expensive.
Therefore using CSS technology to harbor hydrogen, while reducing climate change, could be doubly beneficial.