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Carbon Capture and Storage Explained

Jan, 2023 - By CMI

Carbon Capture and Storage Explained

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet today, and reducing carbon emissions is a key part of tackling this problem.

One strategy for achieving this is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which has been proposed as an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions from large-scale industrial sources. We'll cover the basics of this technology, its benefits, and challenges.

What is Carbon Capture and Storage?

Capturing and storing carbon dioxide is a technique used to mitigate climate change. It involves removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it deep underground. This is a crucial technology because greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming.

Carbon dioxide can be captured in two ways, through pre-combustion capture and post-combustion capture. Pre-combustion capture can be used in power plants to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the air. Post-combustion capture can be used at existing power plants or in new construction.

A large number of projects are currently being developed worldwide. The United States is the leading user of CCS technology. There are over 25 commercial-scale projects underway or in advanced development around the world.

The largest potential storage sites are saline aquifers. These formations span enormous volumes of ground deep underground. When injected into a saline aquifer, the carbon dissolves into water and sinks to the bottom of the aquifer.

Carbon capture and storage can be applied to industries ranging from fossil fuel-based hydrogen production plants to power generation facilities.

By capturing carbon at the source and converting it to other valuable substances, it can help maintain industrial production while also reducing emissions.

How Does Carbon Capture and Storage Work?

By capturing carbon dioxide before it is released into the air, CCS can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%. It is used to decarbonize industries that are unable to eliminate their carbon emissions completely.

The process begins by injecting CO2 into a geological formation deep underground. This is a process that can be expensive and complicated. Nevertheless, many projects are underway to store and transport carbon dioxide from sources in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Some of the most commonly injected CO2 sites are coal beds, oil and gas reservoirs, and deep saline aquifers. These are natural formations that can be pumped underground and stored long-term.

In order to transport carbon dioxide from an emission source to a storage site, pipelines must be constructed. This requires significant energy, as pipelines must be maintained at low temperatures. Impurities in the stream can cause leaks and explosions, so careful planning and engineering are necessary.

The captured carbon dioxide is stored in underground reservoirs or ocean depths to prevent it from contributing to climate change.

The most common method of capturing carbon dioxide is to use a process called flue-gas desulfurization, which works by passing the power plant’s exhaust gasses through a filter that absorbs the carbon dioxide molecules.

Once captured, the carbon dioxide is compressed and transported via pipeline to an underground storage site, such as a deep saline aquifer or a depleted oil or gas field.

Once stored, the carbon dioxide remains trapped in the underground reservoir as a liquid or supercritical fluid. This process can prevent the carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere and, in some cases, can even be used to help extract oil and natural gas from underground reservoirs, increasing the efficiency of traditional oil and gas exploration.

In addition to reducing global warming, carbon capture and storage is also used to enhance oil recovery and produce commercial products. Among the products produced by captured CO2 are concrete and plastic.

Benefits of Using Carbon Capture and Storage Technology

Using the technology to reduce CO2 emissions will provide economic benefits, environmental benefits, and social benefits.

For example, the United States is using CCS to address its greenhouse gas emissions, but the technology is only a small part of a larger plan. There are several other countries in the world that are also taking advantage of the technology, including China and Australia. The Global CCS Institute (GCCI) has evaluated the benefits of large-scale deployment of the technology.

One of the benefits of using carbon capture and storage technology is that it helps to keep industrial production going. Specifically, it helps to maintain the energy demands of a power plant while reducing its carbon emissions. It is estimated that the average coal plant will still be operating for decades to come.

A carbon price may be a key financial incentive for power plants to reduce their carbon emissions. If a carbon price is implemented, the extra cost of capturing additional CO2 would be offset by a tax on the carbon that enters the atmosphere.

Challenges for Carbon Capture and Storage

One of the most basic concerns is the cost and technical feasibility of building a CCS facility.

It would require investment in capital-intensive, long-lived assets, such as CO2 transport pipelines and geological storage resources. Moreover, it will require government support in the form of financial subsidies, operational subsidies, or capital grants.

Despite its promises, many people doubt whether carbon capture and storage is the answer to climate change. The technology is not perfect, and there are a number of drawbacks.

It may be difficult to transport and store the resulting CO2. There is also the potential for catastrophic leaks and earthquakes.

Another major obstacle to widespread deployment is the lack of clear regulations in many jurisdictions. This is a problem that can only be resolved by a unified, national regulatory framework that allows the industry to move forward.

Other barriers to implementation include the economics and technical feasibility of the various projects. Several approaches have been proposed, but little success has been seen.

The only true solution to the climate crisis is a transition to 100% renewable energy. It is important to understand that the technology will not be sufficient to solve the problem.

Conclusion

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a promising technology for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, industries, and other sources. CCS systems capture carbon dioxide from industrial operations, transport it to a storage site, and inject it into geological formations deep underground.

The storage sites may be oil and gas reservoirs, coal beds, deep saline aquifers, or other underground formations. CCS systems are a cost-effective way to reduce emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

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