Canada starts sequestering most emissions at one coal power plant and other carbon capture and storage projects

Carbon Sequestering 1 million tons in Canada

The world’s first big carbon capture experiment at a coal power plant has begun at a Saskatchewan coal-fired power plant, which will purportedly sequester almost all of its emissions.

This first commercial-scale project will capture about a million tons of carbon a year in the world’s first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project .

Canadian utility SaskPower plans to capture 90 percent of emissions at the 110 megawatt Boundary Dam power station. If this $1.35 billion experiment works, they plan to retrofit the other two units at a cost of 20-30 percent less. Building the technology for the first unit has already revealed ways to make improvements on design and engineering, they say.

There have been industrial scale carbon capture and storage projects.

As at September 2012, the Global CCS Institute identified 75 large-scale integrated projects in its 2012 Global Status of CCS report. 16 of these projects are in operation or in construction capturing around 36 million tonnes of CO2 per annum

World industry and transportation is producing 40 billion tons of CO2 in 2014. So carbon capture and storage needs to be scaled up 1000 times to start balancing the production.

1. In Salah CO2 Injection — Algeria

In Salah is a fully operational onshore gas field with CO2 injection. CO2 is separated from produced gas and reinjected in the producing hydrocarbon reservoir zones. Since 2004, about 1 Mt/a of CO2 has been captured during natural gas extraction and injected into the Krechba geologic formation at a depth of 1,800m. The Krechba formation is expected to store 17Mt CO2 over the life of the project.

2. Sleipner CO2 Injection — Norway
Main article: Sleipner gas field

Sleipner is a fully operational offshore gas field with CO2 injection initiated in 1996. CO2 is separated from produced gas and reinjected in the Utsira saline aquifer (800–1000 m below ocean floor) above the hydrocarbon reservoir zones. This aquifer extends much further north from the Sleipner facility at its southern extreme. The large size of the reservoir accounts for why 600 billion tonnes of CO2 are expected to be stored, long after the Sleipner natural gas project has ended.

3. Snøhvit CO2 Injection — Norway

Snøhvit is a fully operational offshore gas field with CO2 injection. The LNG plant is located onshore. CO2 is necessarily separated to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) and then CO2 is injected in a saline aquifer below the hydrocarbon reservoir zones offshore at a rate of 700,000 t/a into the Tubåen sandstone formation 2,600 m under the seabed for storage. This formation was closed April 2011, and injection started in the Stø-formation where produced gas is taken. Produced CO2 is increasing, therefore separation capacity may limit production before end 2015 when a new formation will be drilled for CO2-injection only.

4. Great Plains Synfuel Plant and Weyburn-Midale Project — Canada

Weyburn-Midale is a coal gasification operation that produces synthetic natural gas and various petrochemicals from coal. This project captures about 2.8 Mt/a of CO2 from its coal gasification plant located in North Dakota, USA, transported by pipeline 320 km across the Canadian border and injects it into depleting oil fields in Saskatchewan where it is used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

5. Shute Creek Gas Processing Facility — USA

Around 7 million tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide are recovered from ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek gas processing plant in Wyoming, and transported by pipeline to various oil fields for enhanced oil recovery. This project has been operational since 1986.

Startup Capture from Air

Eisenberger’s Global Thermostat company has raised $24 million in investments, built a working demonstration plant that extracts CO2 from the air, and struck deals to supply at least one customer with carbon dioxide harvested from the sky. But the next challenge is proving that the technology could have a transformative impact on the world, befitting his company’s name.

The way to make air capture profitable, says Global Thermostat cofounder Graciela Chichilnisky, a Columbia University economist and mathematician, is to take advantage of the demand for the gas by various industries. There already exists a well-established, billion-dollar market for carbon dioxide, which is used to rejuvenate oil wells, make carbonated beverages, and stimulate plant growth in commercial greenhouses. Historically, the gas sells for around $100 per ton. But Eisenberger says his company’s prototype machine could extract a concentrated ton of the gas for far less than that. The idea is to first sell carbon dioxide to niche markets, such as oil-well recovery, to eventually create bigger ones, like using catalysts to make fuels in processes that are driven by solar energy. “Once capturing carbon from the air is profitable, people acting in their own self-interest will make it happen,” says Chichilnisky.

Engineers have previously deployed amines to scrub CO2 from flue gases, whose temperatures are around 70 °C when they exit power plants. Subsequently removing the CO2 from the amines—“regenerating” the amines—generally requires reactions at 120 °C. By contrast, Eisenberger calculated that his system would operate at roughly 85 °C, requiring less total energy. It would use relatively cheap steam for two purposes. The steam would heat the surface, driving the CO2 off the amines to be collected, while also blowing CO2 away from the surface.

With less heat-management infrastructure than what is required with amines in the smokestacks of power plants, the design of a scrubber could be simpler and therefore cheaper. Using data from their prototype, Eisenberger’s team figures the approach could cost between $15 and $50 per ton of carbon dioxide captured from air, depending on how long the amine surfaces last.

If Global Thermostat can achieve anywhere near the prices it’s touting, a number of niche markets beckon. The startup has partnered with a Carson City, Nevada-based company called Algae Systems to make biofuels using carbon dioxide and algae. Meanwhile the demand is rising for carbon dioxide to inject into depleted oil wells, a technique known as enhanced oil recovery. One study estimates that the application could require as much as 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2021, a nearly tenfold increase over the 2011 market.

Nuclear Power avoided emissions

Nuclear power avoids the emissions of about 2 billion tons of CO2 each year if coal power was used instead and about 1.18 billion tons if it was natural gas instead.

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