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Bio-Energy Carbon Capture and Storage
Aug 23, 2014

  • It is a carbon reduction technology that offers removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

  • It is an emerging technology that has the potential to go beyond traditional climate change mitigation, and instead actually achieve negative emissions, i.e. net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • This technology produces negative carbon dioxide emissions. 

  • Trees and crops give off carbon dioxide when they are burnt as fuel, but also act as a carbon sink as they grow beforehand, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These two processes cancel each other out, resulting in net zero emissions of carbon dioxide. When combined with carbon capture and storage -- techniques that aim to pull carbon dioxide out of the flue gases from power plants and redirect it into geological storage locations -- the overall carbon dioxide emissions are negative. If applied on a global scale, this could help to reverse global warming. 

  • Negative CO2 emissions are generated by combining bio-energy production (biomass fuel-power stations, pulp mills and bio-fuel plants) with carbon capture and storage technology, allowing carbon dioxide to be captured from the atmosphere and remitted back underground.


  • The technology has been aimed at large scale, old school power plants that mainly rely on coal as a fuel source.

  • The idea is to remove the carbon either before or after combustion and pipe it underground so that the invisible gas can be contained in rock formations without leaking.

  • While Carbon Capture and Storage CCS could, in theory, limit the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere, it doesn't do much for the CO2 already there.

  • But according to Some researchers if we combine the carbon capture and storage with bio-energy crops and plants, we could begin to remove emissions that have already been accumulated.

  • This technology was pointed out in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a key technology for reaching low carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration targets.

  • Beccs involves burning wood and other crops, but would require large areas of land.

  • The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppmdecrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and according to the International Energy Agency, the BLUE map climate change mitigation scenario calls for more than 2 gigatonnes of negative CO2 emissions per year with BECCS in 2050. According to Stanford University, 10 gigatonnes is achievable by this date.

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE TECHNOLOGY :

  • Carbon capture and storage, also known as CCS or carbon sequestration, describes a family of technologies designed to tackle global warming by capturing CO2 – at power stations, industrial sites or even directly from the air – and permanently storing it underground.

  • CCS technology involves three major steps:
    • Capture : The separation of CO2 from other gases produced at large industrial process facilities such as coal and natural gas power plants, oil and gas plants, steel mills, cement plants, etc.
    • Transport : Once separated, the CO2 is compressed and transported via pipelines, trucks, ships or other methods to a suitable site for geological storage.
     Storage : CO2 is injected into deep underground rock formations, often at depths of one kilometre or more.

  • The aim of technology is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere (from fossil fuel use in power generation and other industries). It is a potential means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming and ocean acidification.

  • There are three main techniques: 
    i) the post-combustion process involves scrubbing the power plant's exhaust gas using chemicals. 
    ii) Pre-combustion CCS takes place before the fuel is placed in the furnace by first converting coal into a clean-burning gas and stripping out the CO2 released by the process. 
    iii) The third method, oxyfuel, burns the coal in an atmosphere with a higher concentration of pure oxygen, resulting in an exhaust gas that is almost pure CO2.

  • Once the CO2 has been trapped, it is liquefied, transported – sometimes for several hundred miles – and buried, either in suitable geological formations, deep underground saline aquifers or disused oil fields. The last method is often used in a process called "enhanced oil recovery", where CO2 is pumped into an oil field to force out the remaining pockets of oil that would otherwise prove difficult to extract.

  • technology is not cheap – up to 40% of a power station's energy could end up being used to run the CCS scrubbing and transport.


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