Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has the potential to cut global Co2 emissions dramatically. We’re talking huge cuts. It has been estimated that a plant implementing CCS can cut emissions by 80-90 percent compared with a plant that doesn’t use CCS. Sounds great, right? Well, there are some some problems.
Cost is the number one challenge that CCS faces. “Applying it would significantly increase the cost of electricity beyond what society is likely willing to pay,” said Sarah Forbes, a World Resources Institute Senior Associate. Another challenge is that no fully integrated demonstrations have taken place. The pieces have been tested individually, but the entire puzzle is yet to be seen.
Forbes describes CCS and its current challenges in more detail:
“The CO2CRC H3 Capture Project will trial three CO2 capture technologies with Australian brown coal flue gases and evaluate them for larger scale capture,” said Mr Barry Hooper, Chief Technologist of the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC).
The project is using the 30 metre high solvent capture plant installed by International Power as part of the Hazelwood Carbon Capture Project to test and evaluate new and improved solvents, compare equipment performance, investigate impurities removal and optimize solvent capture processes.
The project will also test the effectiveness of two new technologies: membranes and absorbents. Membranes, typically made of polymers or ceramics, can be used to sieve out carbon dioxide from gas streams. Carbon Dioxide seeps through the membrane’s pores and comes in contact with the solvent, which is selected specifically so that only Co2 is absorbed.
Adsorbents are solids (typically minerals called zeolites) that can capture Co2 on their surface, release the Co2 when a change in temperature or pressure is experienced and be reused over and over. These absorption technologies have potential to be more cost effective because they require less energy and they could have less impact on the environment.
“Projects such as this will make retro-fitting of post-combustion capture technology more practical and affordable for all power stations.”
The winds of adversity are still blowing strong, but headway is being made. Alongside renewable (non carbon-based) energy supplies, affordable, effective carbon storage and capture could play a huge role in our fight against global climate change.
Image Credit: CO2CRC
I'm a 22 year old student of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, I've grown up loving the red rock of southern Utah as well as the pristine mountains of the northern fronts. Besides saving the planet one blog post at a time, I enjoy soccer, the natural world, reading and writing.