Ever wondered about the chances of net-zero emissions and a solution to Climate change? Well, wonder no more.
Carbon capture, utilization, and storage have really high odds of a greener future for everyone! Following the issue of sustainable economic growth aimed towards net-zero emissions, which the climate change debate has brought to the fore, carbon capture, utilization and storage have been ventured into by many reputable Agencies such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), The International Governmental Panel On Climate Change, the United Nations and many oil and gas companies, among others.
Carbon Capture, Utilization, and storage, (CCUS) is a set of technologies that are employed in the capturing of Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at source preventing entrance into the atmosphere.
This captured CO2 is then transported for reuse or storage in the appropriate facilities or underground. Some of the applications of captured CO2 include Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) for petroleum production, feedstock for hydrogen production, fertilizer, and lots more.
It is believed that as much as 450 Mt of CO2 could be captured globally with a commercial incentive as low as $40/Mt according to the IEA but due to some underlying issues, this resource has remained largely untapped.
The issues include Lack of appropriate technologies, uncertainty around policy and return of investments (ROI) preventing large-scale projects on carbon capture to be set up, the general public fighting against any form of Carbon energy and generally pushing towards renewables, and others. With the introduction of more large-scale projects and technologies, solutions can be proffered towards Carbon Capture and in essence, Sustainability. Now, isn’t that great?
CCUS can be broken into four major groups:
Carbon Capture as the name implies involves the collection of Carbon from large fossil fuel or biomass energy facilities, industries with major C02 emissions, exhaust or reformed gases, fossil fuel-based hydrogen production plants, and even direct capture from the air.
This collection/separation is carried out through absorption or carbon scrubbing, adsorption, membrane gas separation, etc.
Absorption/carbon-scrubbing involves the separation of CO2 from associated gases using Amines.
This method is the most cost-effective as of now. Adsorption and membrane gas separation are still in the research phases and are not ready to be introduced.
Carbon capture is believed to be the least technologically mature and therefore the most costly of all the components of CCUS.
If this process can be optimized, then the whole CCUS process would become a feasible process, provide a cost-effective solution to the problem of emission, and can be widely employed in various industries for both carbon capture and use and reuse.
Carbon capture is just the first step. Captured carbon dioxide is usually transported through pipelines, and occasionally ships, to storage or use/reuse site.
It is cost-effective if the captured C02 is introduced into a petroleum field for tertiary injection as the costs of laying pipelines for carbon transportation are high and the throughput of product to offset the cost of construction and construction and operation is not guaranteed.
North America has enough storage capacity for more than 900 years’ worth of Carbon dioxide (CO2) at current production rates, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Basically, geological formations, oil production projects, aquifers and even unconventional reservoirs are currently the most promising sequestration sites.
Capturing carbon has been in use for decades as a way to help improve the quality of natural gas. This captured gases can be used and reused for Enhanced Oil Recovery operations, as feedstock for Hydrogen production, fertilizers, building materials, carbonated beverages, polymers, and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few.
Currently, more than 23 large scale CCUS projects are in operation and soon with the daily advancements in technology and infrastructure, we will have a brighter and greener future even with non-renewable/fossil energy.