To fight climate change, carbon capture is the need of the hour!

According to climate scientists, humans are in a global war with climate change. Humans need to carry out large-scale carbon capture, storage, and utilization (CCUS).  Some experts say that if we fight the war against climate change via CCUS, we support the continued use of fossil fuels instead of replacing them with renewable energy. At present, the contribution of fossil fuels to the energy supply is over 80%, while renewable is only 10%.

Many experts have predicted that there will be an increase in supply usage by over 80%, with renewable but still fossil fuels will remain the source of energy. This is because the growth in renewable energy will not keep up with the increase in demand as the global population is continuously increasing. In such a scenario, a war against climate change without CCUS implies that energy consumption has to be reduced dramatically and accept a dramatic reduction in GDP.  With the given population growth predictions the adaptation of large-scale CCUS might be unavoidable to make less severe ever-increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

At present, there are very few efforts being made to fight against climate change. The consequence is that the amount of carbon dioxide levels would exceed the atmosphere before any serious action is taken. Technology that can help in negative energy is needed to be deployed.

Carbon capture is an integral part of carbon management. For carbon, it is essential to differentiate between stationary sources and mobile sources of carbon dioxide. Stationary sources include power plants, factories, etc., and mobile sources include cars, airplanes, etc. There is no solution for carbon capture from mobile sources, so the focus is on stationary sources.

Removing carbon dioxide from stationary sources can be done by using quite old technology. Most natural gases contain more carbon dioxide than is allowed in pipelines. Gas companies use the amine scrubbing process to separate carbon dioxide from methane. From flue gas similar process can be used to remove carbon dioxide. This technology can be used in capturing carbon in large, as per the scientists.

The problem with this technique is that the regeneration of the amine solution and the subsequent compression of carbon dioxide for transport and geological storage is very energy-intensive. As a result, a power plant with carbon capture will be expensive to build but reduce efficiency. Now researchers are more focused on increasing the efficiency of the absorption process and on finding alternatives.

According to thermodynamics, the lower the concentration of carbon dioxide, the more expensive it is to capture a ton. Most carbon capture effort has been focused on flue gas streams from coal-fired power plants. This contains about 15% of carbon dioxide. For many years coal was the cheapest fossil fuel. But this did not forecast the availability of large amounts of cheap natural gas in recent years. Carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced significantly if gas-fired power plants replace coal-fired power plants.

According to IPCC, more carbon dioxide is emitted than what is permissible. There it is a possibility that carbon dioxide will increase the atmosphere than the allowable limit. In such cases, technology has to develop to mitigate the effects of climate change, and technology has to develop to reduce carbon levels from the atmosphere. Negative emissions can be achieved in a coal-fired power plant by co-firing excess biomass and capturing the carbon dioxide together with coal-emitted carbon dioxide. 

According to International Energy Agency, there are currently 21 large-scale CCUS commercial projects worldwide. The main aim is to take carbon dioxide from factor emission. In 1972 the 1st one was set up. Earlier CCUS technology was used for enhanced oil recovery. To help oil companies to retrieve more oil from the ground carbon dioxide was pumped into an oil field. The carbon capture technology was studied in the 1980s for climate mitigation efforts. 

One example of carbon capture in the US would be in Decatur, Ill., where the Archer Daniels Midland Company, a food processing gain, launched a carbon capture and storage project in 2017. Per year it can take 1.1 million tons of carbon out of the emission released by a corn processing factory. A mile and half underground carbon is stored.

For factories’ carbon capture, emissions are routed through a vessel with a liquid solvent which essentially absorbs the carbon dioxide. In a 2nd tower, the solvent has to be heated to remove carbon dioxide where it’s then routed for underground storage. The solvent can be reused in the first vessel or tower.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is tracked as in parts per million, or PPM. The Industrial Revolution started with 280 parts per million in the atmosphere, but it has now increased to 415. Every year it increases by 2.5 ppm a year. The consequences of the rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be more worst in the future. The climate has become more extreme, the oceans have begun to rise, and hurricanes have become worse. All these will get more worst in the following decades.

Capturing carbon for air is called direct air capture, and there are currently 15 natural air capture plants in the US, Canada, Europe. In the transition to a zero-energy system, carbon removal will play an important role. But currently, it is an expensive technology. The carbon dioxide in the air is .04% which makes direct capture expensive.

Carbon capture technology future –

There is technology to capture carbon and there is an urgent need for the climate to be mitigated. But the question is why it is not used everywhere. The problem is economics. It is cheaper to put carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than to capture and remove it. Who is going to pay for that? There musty be an economic cost to releasing carbon dioxide pollution into the atmosphere to change that reality. The cost will be reduced by best capture technology, but it will never be zero. If the world is not willing to put a price on carbon, the best carbon capture technology will be useless.

Scientists and researchers are working constantly to make current carbon capture technology better. There have been many innovations and improvements in the past ten years to enable us to save more energy and cost up to 70% less for new carbon capture processes.


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