Monday, March 24, 2008

Carbon capture technology - Best solution?

Carbon capture technology is technology that tends to reduce negative impact of global warming by capturing carbon dioxide(CO2) from power plants and subsequently storing it instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Capturing carbon dioxide means nothing without its storage and the storage of carbon dioxide is still relatively unknown in majority of the world countries.

Carbon capture technology has enormous potential and when implanted in modern power plants it could reduce emission of carbon dioxide by about 80-90% compared to the plants without these technology. However capturing carbon needs significantly bigger amount of energy and would increase fuel consumption in power plants for about 10-40%. Capital costs are significant too which all comes down to increase the costs of energy from 30-60%, which is in many countries simply economically unacceptable because of these high costs.

This picture shows working principles of carbon capture technology. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

The storage of carbon dioxide is also the problem because the carbon dioxide is either stored in deep geological formations, deep oceans, or in the form of mineral carbonates. Risk is especially expressed when storing it into deep oceans and it could greatly increase the problem of ocean acidification. Hence the best solution lies in geological formations which by some estimations have capacity of at least 2000 GT CO2.

Carbon capture technology has significant impact in Norway where they use the method of trapping carbon dioxide and storing it long-term underground, mainly in mature oil-fields. This technology made its way to the ears of the US oil industry too, because it potentially offers a partial solution to the global warming problem without reducing US traditional dependence on oil or curbing consumption.

But this technology is still really in the development stage and would require massive fonds to become economically viable and some even say this technology lacks necessary safety because the underground storage chamber could rupture which would then release a huge bubble of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, worsening global warming at a stroke, and this is also one thing that must be taken into the consideration when talking about the good and the bad sides of carbon capture technology.

However carbon capture technology is still the step in the right direction and the subject worthy of further researching despite of its need for large investments. Quite frankly any technology that could significantly reduce emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is worthy of further researching cause ecology and environment are begging for new cleaner technologies that could put an end to a well known global warming problem. And carbon capture technology isn't exception.

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