CCS Carbon capture & storage

Carbon Capture and Storage - CCS

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Coal fired power stations will be relatively easy to replace with renewable energy. However CO2 from steel making, and food production are much more difficult to reduce.

We are going to have to develop ways of capturing and storing carbon dioxide or carbon. 

CSIRO has produced various predictions for world electricity generation. This is the one for reduction of CO2 by 25%. Their conclusion is that coal will increase but will have to have CCS. They estimate that CCS will cost a coal fired power stations 20-25% of its energy. This will make it very difficult for coal and gas to compete with renewables.

Ref:  Global CCS Institute

Source: CSIRO

There can be little doubt the coal industry will delay this as long as possible. It is going to be up to the governments to set and enforce the rules.

The cost of CCS has been estimated to be $80-140 /tonne CO2. Hopefully this figure will reduce with experience.

Maybe one day we are going to become tired of extreme floods, fires and storms, and will decide to put it all back underground. It is going to be a huge task, and the longer we delay, the worse it will get.

On the following pages I've collected the various technologies for Carbon Capture, transport, and Storage

Further reading:

IEA (International Energy Agency) analysis suggests that CCS will play a vital role in worldwide, least-cost efforts to limit global warming, contributing around one-fifth of required emissions reductions in 2050. For CCS to reach this potential, around 100 CCS projects would need to be implemented by 2020 and over 3,000 by 2050. More..

Ref: Statement on CCS Cost Reports – European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP)


In nature

In nature carbon has been stored over geological time scales.

Coal - plant material compressed under water and buried underground

Oil and gas - Dead plankton (organic plant and animal material) falls to the bottom of the ocean together with mud, sand and other sediments. Over time and pressure it becomes oil or gas.

Limestone is formed from the skeletons of marine organisms such as corals, shellfish, and microscopic life forms in sea water such as foraminifera.

Dolomite - (Calcium and magnesium carbonate) No one is sure how it is formed. It has been observed that  dolomite can form under anaerobic conditions in supersaturated saline lagoons. 

Magnesium Silicate - In Oman, a large area of rock is fixing about one million tonnes of CO2 per year as magnesium silicate.


Articles from various publications

Climate Spectator    

 Clean Coal doesn't work or exist – not one light bulb is powered by clean coal carbon capture and storage. ZeroGen, the Australian effort, was a failure, along with Futuregen in the US, which their government pulled the plug on 2 years ago. In the last few months we have found out that the only remaining project of size – the giant Longannet Carbon Capture and Storage project in the UK has fallen through due to cost projection blowouts. There is no clean coal, and there will not ever be clean coal. The billions of dollars in funding that has been thrown at it, with precious little result, has already proven it will never be competitive with renewables. 

Climate Spectator The purpose of this discussion is to establish an estimate of a system’s size necessary to collect CO2 generated by an energy source of a given size.  If one could maintain a flow of 3 m/s through some filter system, and collect half the CO2 that passes through it, then the system would collect per square meter the CO2 output from 15 kW of primary energy.   This is more than the per capita primary energy consumption in the US, which is approximately10 kW.  The size of a CO2 collection system would thus have to be less than 1m2 per person.   Covering the same energy demand with wind-generated electricity instead would require an area at least a hundred times larger. more

Alstom Power president Phillippe Joubert has told a conference in Italy that carbon capture technology has reached the point of large-scale deployment. Unveiling the results of a study based on Alstom’s 13 pilot and demonstration projects, Joubert told the PowerGen Europe conference in Milan last week, “We can now be confident that carbon capture technology works and is cost effective”. Joubert says electricity generated in a coal-burning power plant with CCS equipment, which will be available at a commercial scale in 2015 and will allow capture of 90 per cent of the emitted CO2, will cost between 6.5 and 8.5 eurocents/kWh depending on the fuel and location.  


 Obama calls coal industry's bluff on CCS

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced 21 sept 13 that new coal fired power station must be fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

For years the coal industry has been promising that CCS, will solve the CO2 problem. The Australian coal industry has been advertising that  CCS was a “practical solution” which “can make a real difference.”

However after this new rule was announced the story has changed.

The US coal industry is outraged. Peabody Energy, which has mines in both Australia and the US, thundered that CCS “is simply not commercially available”. The US National Mining Association complained of “potential high cost” for such “theoretical“ systems.

“Carbon capture is a pipe dream”, said FreedomWorks, the influential right wing think tank that is credited with forming the Tea Party and is one of Big Coal’s noisiest backers.

“Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible,” said Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, who represents the coal state West Virginia in Washington and is its former governor.

In March 2012 Megan Davison, the executive director of the Victorian division of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), went so far as to claim that ‘clean coal’ technologies could happen “in the blink of an eye.”  

This USA law has called their bluff.

Source: Renew Economy

Bob Burton is co-author with Guy Pearse and David McKnight of Big Coal: Australia’s dirtiest habit (NewSouth Books, August 2013). He is also a Contributing Editor of CoalSwarm, a coal wiki and a director of The Sunrise Project, an Australian group promoting a renewable energy economy).


Mass and Volume of Carbon Dioxide

Quite often politicians or deniers will tell you carbon dioxide is odorless, harmless, and weightless.

Well not quite right. One cubic metre at STP weighs about 2 KG. (STP =  Standard Temperature and Pressure = 20oC and 1 atmos.) 

When 12 tonnes of carbon is burnt, 44 tonnes of CO2 is produced. So one tonne of Coal produces about 3 tonnes of CO2.

Limestone, (CaCO3) is 44% CO2 by mass.

Volume of CO2 storage

There is a further problem. Liquid or critical state CO2 is half as dense as coal, so storage will require about six times the volume of the coal burnt!!

C + O2  ---> CO2

12 + 32   -->  44 g

Burning 1 T Coal produces 85% C x 44/12 = 3.1 T CO2


CaCO3    --->  CaO  +  CO2

100           ---> 56  +  44 

CO2 is 44% of the mass of limestone


Using CO2 to manufacture fuel, chemicals and materials

See report:

Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the green economy 


Energy required for carbon capture and storage

Part of the problem is that CO2 capture results in an energy penalty which reduces the output of power plants by up to 25-40% (depending on the technology and starting efficiency of the plant). This energy loss further increases the amount of CO2 to be captured and stored.