Archive for January, 2010

US DOE CCS IGCC Projects – Membranes, Solvents, Sorbents, Novel Ideas

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

This post provides details of US DOE selected / funded projects for CCS of IGCC power plants. Data provided here are based on a June 2009 article from Carbon Capture Journal

The US DOE has selected nine projects that will develop pre-combustion carbon capture technologies for coal-based IGCC plants. The projects, totaling nearly $14.4 million, will be managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

High-Temperature, High-Pressure Membranes

The focus of this research area is membrane-based separation devices.

* University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.—This project aims to develop defect-free, contaminant-resistant, hydrothermally stable molecular sieve membrane films with minimally tortuous path for diffusion of the preferred hydrogen molecules from the shifted synthesis gas mixtures

* Pall Corp., Cortland, N.Y.—Pall Corporation will leverage its proprietary combinatorial membrane fabrication technology to screen a large number of potential ternary palladium (Pd)-alloys for sulfur-tolerant, phase-stabilized hydrogen transport membrane candidates for separating hydrogen from shifted synthesis gas mixtures

* Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.—Researchers at Arizona State will integrate the water gas shift reaction with a CO2 selective membrane to separate CO2 from shifted synthesis gas.

High Efficiency Solvents

* SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif.—SRI will use aqueous NH4CO3 based solvents to capture high-pressure CO2 at lower solvent cost and with an efficient regeneration process.

Solid Sorbents

Applications were sought for R&D leading to optimal performance of novel sorbents for adsorbing CO2 with fast adsorption-desorption, and regeneration kinetics, and a low energy requirement to regenerate the sorbent material.

* TDA Research, Inc., Wheat Ridge, Colo.—TDA will develop novel mesoporous carbon with Lewis base functionalized groups that remove CO2 via physical adsorption.

* URS Group, Austin, Texas—Using a molecular computational approach to formulate and then fabricate superior sorbent material, URS Group will combine modeling and experiments to tailor sorbents properties for optimum CO2 capture.

Novel Concepts

* Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, Ill.—GTI will couple an engineered plastic contactor with an appropriate solvent to potentially achieve 60% operating cost and 70% capital cost reduction.

* Membrane Technology and Research, Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.—Membrane Technology and Research will develop a novel polymer membrane(s) for the separation of hydrogen from shifted synthesis gas.

* New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, N.J.—Researchers propose a pressure swing absorption approach to capture CO2 using an ionic liquid incorporated in either a ceramic hollow tube or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fiber membrane.


Carbon Microbubbles Sequestration for Saline Aquifers, Rocks, Tight Reservoirs

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

Carbon microbubbles sequestration: A novel technology for stable underground emplacement of greenhouse gases into wide variety of saline aquifers, fractured rocks and tight reservoirs


A novel economic leak-free underground injection technology of Greenhouse gas—the carbon (CO2) microbubbles sequesrtration can bring the deep reduction of greenhouse gas emission into reality around the world. The atomized foams of CO2 gas, CO2 supercritical fluid or CO2 liquid are dispersed deep into tiny pores of wide variety of underground rocks for virtually permanent storage. The gas microbubbles injection may be effective also for the EOR and EGR in tight rocks such as oil shale and gas shale. Combined effect of hardly buoyant carbon microbubbles, heavy carbon dioxide solution and various trapping mechanisms makes the carbon microbubbles sequestration stable and leak-free in wide variety of geology. The carbon microbubbles injection is suitable also to small scale sequestration of greenhouse gases in the coming hydrogen society as well as large scale CO2 storage from big coal-fired power plants.

The dispersion and dilution of CO2 in large volume of deep groundwater and rocks by scattered relatively small-scale carbon microbubbles injections are an earth-friendly strategy of greenhouse gas sequestration. The flexibility of site selection makes the source-sink matching much easier for the carbon microbubbles sequestration than conventional direct large-scale injection practices. As we can find the suitable site for the storage near of many large sources of carbon dioxide, the carbon microbubbles sequestration is practically energy-saving and cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction method in many regions. The carbon microbubbles injection can produce the reductive geochemical and biological environments in tiny pores of igneous (especially oceanic) rocks and sequestrate CO2 into carbonates, organics and methane in the similar mechanism to the Early Archaean earth. The autogenous sealing by carbonate trapping and by hydrate trapping provides the leak proof storage of anthropogenic CO2 in the deep oceanic crust.

The carbon microbubbles sequestration (CMS) provides the economig leak-free option of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and a break-through for the prevention of global warming.


Biochar’s Potential for Carbon Capture – CCS using Biochar

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

Scientists are reporting that biochar, a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago, has the potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as CO2.

Biochar can be used as a soil amendment to affect plant growth yield, improve water quality, reduce leaching of nutrients, reduce soil acidity, and reduce irrigation and fertilizer requirements.

The potential for biochar to both sequester CO2 and enhance soil fertility is something I have been hearing for quite some time now, in many meetings and conferences I attend. True, the CO2 is not sequestered entirely because it is released into the atmosphere over a period of time, but this appears to be one sustainable way of sequestration, at least partial sequestration.

Biochar is a high carbon, fine grained residue which used to be produced using centuries old techniques by smoldering biomass. It is typically produced by heating wood, grass, cornstalks or other organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The heat drives off gases that can be collected and burned to produce energy. It leaves behind charcoal rich in carbon.

A study recently done by ACS involved a life cycle analysis of biochar production. The study concluded that several biochar production systems have the potential for being an economically viable way of sequestering carbon while producing renewable energy and enhancing soil fertility.


Biochar , Carbon Capture and Storage

Can Storing CO2 Underground Cause Earthquakes? – Alberta Scientists Probe

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

Ok, so we are not the first to raise this topic – “could storing massive quantities of CO2 underground result in earthquakes?”.

Many folks have asked this before, and the experts in the CCS industry have assured us that when done properly (specifically, when the injection of CO2 is done at the proper rate and pressure and when proper monitoring mechanisms are in place), there is no danger whatsoever of earthquakes happening as a result of CO2 injection into the ground.

Such assurances have obviously not satisfied everyone.

A team of researchers from the University of Calgary are studying the impact of the oil and gas industry and the CO2 burial on seismic activity.

Specifically, this team from the University of Calgary is asking if such activities could cause earthquakes in the normally calm crust of Alberta?

Most tremors in Alberta are too small to notice but sizable earthquakes do occur — as in 2001, when a 5.4-magnitude event rocked the northern Dawson Creek area and was felt as far south as Edmonton.

Scientists at the U of C’s geoscience department hope to learn more about what causes these poorly understood subterranean movements by installing a series of monitoring devices across Alberta.

The Alberta government has promised $2 billion toward carbon capture technologies, with the federal government earmarking $1 billion toward a clean-energy fund.

The project is the second of its kind launched this year in Alberta. The U of C’s stations can send data over the Internet, where it will be accessible to people all over the world. So, we can all hope to understand more about this important aspect.

More from here on the Alberta team’s efforts

I also thought I’d get some answers to the question “Can CO2 burial underground cause earthquakes?”

Here are two answers, one from The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany and the other from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA

BGR, Germany – While injecting the CO2 into the geological reservoir, one of the key issues is pressure control. The injection process has to be constantly monitored and controlled so that the overlying seal rock does not crack. Because earthquakes are caused by such cracks, best practice injection procedures would effectively prevent them from happening ( Link)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division – “During the 1950s it was discovered that injection of fluids at high pressures could cause small-to-medium-sized earthquakes. Subsequent scientific studies identified “hydrofracturing”, slippage along pre-existing fractures, and fault activation as the causes for these earthquakes. Based on understanding local and regional stresses in the earth’s crust, guidelines have been developed to prevent injection-induced microseismicity. Now, regulatory agencies limit injection rates and pressures to avoid unintentional hydrofracturing. Microseismic monitoring is often done early in a project to establish operational parameters for injection. Carbon dioxide storage projects would operate under similar guidelines, thus eliminating concerns about causing earthquakes. In addition, CO2-EOR and natural gas storage projects operate without generating significant seismic events.” (Link, Page 23, )

Book: Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

This looks like a useful book.


Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products – Workshop Report (2003)
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES)
Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS)
Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR)

More from here

Polymeric Gas Separation Membranes for CO2 Capture from Flue Gases

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010


Global warming has been identified as one of the world’s major environmental issues. While it is impossible to completely stop the effects of anthropological global warming, it is possible to mitigate these effects via a variety of options. One such option is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the capture of carbon dioxide from flue gases followed by underground sequestration. For this technology to become widespread, new methods of capturing carbon dioxide must be devised. While capture of carbon dioxide with amine solvents is the most mature technology, another possible contender is gas separation membranes. This review will focus on novel materials for gas separation. In particular, polymeric gas separation membranes are examined. Possible design strategies, synthesis, fabrication and role of novel materials are discussed.

Keywords: Geosequestration; Gas separation; Membranes; Polymeric; Carbon dioxide; Nitrogen; Polysulfones; Polyimides; Polycarbonates; Polyarylates; Polypyrrolones

More from here

White Paper on New Carbon Capture Processes – CO2 Capture, CCS

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

The capture process routes of postcombustion, precombustion and denitrogenation can be readily followed using existing separation processes and energy conversion processes. The technological challenge is in the scale-up, the use in power production and the integration of these processes and components. There is also scope for the use of novel capture technologies, which might lead to a break-through in performance or capture costs. This article describes a range of capture processes, which are currently under investigation in Europe and show considerable promise for performance improvement and cost reduction on the medium to long term. They include the advanced zero emission power concept, chemical looping combustion, high temperature adsorbents, antisublimation, membrane contactors and the coupling of a compact reformer with power generation.

More from here (PDF)

UK Carbon Capture Hubs Idea from Scottish Power’s Nick Horler

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

Here’s some interesting news from the UK on CCS related efforts.

Scottish Power chief executive Nick Horler recently revealed plans to develop a series of carbon capture hubs across the UK.

What really is the big deal about hubs? I think the interesting aspect of the idea is in trying to productise CCS technology so that it can be “installed” at various power plants and industries, as against developing it each time at each location.

Or that’s what I understand of the idea.

“If you look at the Forth Valley it emits about 15 million tons of carbon a year. You are talking about refineries, steel mills, foundries. Stretch down to the north-east of England, Tyneside and Teesside, it is even more,” he said.

The other interesting aspect of his speech was his emphasis on storing the CO2 under the North Sea. Horler intends to exploit the “wonderful accident of geography” which makes the North Sea so suitable for burying carbon. He cited a study carried out which said the the central North Sea would be suitable to accommodate all of Europe’s CO2 until well into the next century.


ScottishPower is currently bidding to win a £1 billion government grant to test carbon capture technology at its coal powered plant at Longannet, in Fife. If the plan goes ahead, it will be the largest carbon capture scheme in the world. Its plans for the hubs is dependent on whether it wins the bid.

You can know more about this from here

Maritime Carbon Capture Research – CCS Aboard Ships

Posted by on Thursday, 28 January, 2010

OK, this post is not exactly about CCS at power plants, but it is about CCS for – ships, of all things!

Apparently, maritime CO2 emissions are about 1000 million tons per year (1 gigaton), about 2.5% of total CO2 emissions produced by all human activities – total is about 40 Giga tons per year from all anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

A new R&D project aims to develop blueprint designs for on-ship carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, Det Norske Veritas AS, a leading maritime classification society has joined with the consultant group Process Systems Enterprise Ltd (PSE).

This maritime CCS project aims to develop a blueprint design for an on-board process for chemical capture and temporary storage of CO2 for ships in transit until discharge into transmission and storage infrastructures at the next suitable port.


Know more about this from here

CO2 to Gasoline, Fuel Using Enzymes – Carbon Sciences’ Biocatalysts

Posted by on Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Read recently about the announcement from Carbon Sciences that it has developed a breakthrough technology to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into gasoline and other portable fuels.

The company’s current approach is an enzyme-based process used to transform CO2 into low-level fuels, such as methanol. According to the company, it’s team has now discovered a new and more cost efficient process to produce gasoline, a high-level fuel, from CO2. The key features of this breakthrough includes (1) the of use flue emissions directly from coal-fired power plants or industrial factories, (2) the use of brackish water, eliminating the need for distilled freshwater as the source of hydrogen and reaction medium, (3) mild operating conditions, eliminating the need for capital intensive stainless steel equipment, and (4) a highly scalable system.

I was able to get some more insights on the technology and process, but not surprisingly, a lot more – from the company’s web page. See also here.

The path that the company is pursuing – a biocatalytic process to obtain useful hydrocarbons from CO2 – is exciting, but there are few details on the specifics, as well as data on energy required for the entire process.

Well, to its credit, the company does say the following:”By innovating at the intersection of chemical engineering and bio-engineering, we have discovered a low energy and highly scalable process to recycle large quantities of CO2 into gaseous and liquid fuels using organic biocatalysts. The key to our CO2-to-Fuel approach lies in a proprietary multi-step biocatalytic process. Instead of using expensive inorganic catalysts, such as zinc, gold or zeolite, with traditional high energy catalytic chemical processes, our process uses inexpensive, renewable biomolecules to catalyze certain chemical reactions required to transform CO2 and water (H2O) into fuel molecules. Of greatest significance, our process occurs at low temperature and low pressure, thereby requiring far less energy than other approaches.” (Source)

But still, I think their research is at an initial stage and unless we see results from larger-scale commercial efforts with benchmarked data, it will be difficult to know whether indeed this interesting idea can be a serious solution to CO2 capture (I doubt whether it can be called sequestration because the CO2 will be released when the gasoline burns).

CLIMAX 500 Climate Tech Startup Snapshot - Top 10 startups in 50 decarbonization avenues

Renewable Energy - Utility Scale Solar | Distributed Solar | Solar Thermal | Wind Power | Biomass heating and power | Biofuels | Hydro Power | Geothermal Energy

Energy Efficiency - Energy Efficient Buildings | Industrial Waste Heat Recovery | Low Carbon Thermal Power | Energy Efficient Industrial Equipment | Smart Grids | Heat Pumps | Digital for Decarbonization

Energy Storage - Battery Storage | Thermal & Mechanical Storage | Green Hydrogen

Agriculture & Food - Sustainable Forestry | Regenerative Agriculture | Smart Farming | Low Carbon Food | Agro Waste Management

Materials - Bio-based Materials | Advanced Materials | Product Use Efficiency | Industrial Resource Efficiency

Waste Management - Reducing Food Waste | Solid Waste Management

Water - Water Use Efficiency 

Decarbonizing Industries - Low Carbon Metals | Low Carbon Chemicals & Fertilizers | Low Carbon Construction Materials | Low Carbon Textiles & Fashion | Decarbonizing Oil & Gas Sector | Corporate Carbon Management

Low Carbon Mobility - Electric Mobility | Low Carbon Trucking | Low Carbon Marine Transport | Low Carbon Aviation | Low Carbon ICE Vehicles | Mass Transit 

GHG Management - CO2 Capture & Storage | C2V - CO2 to Value | Reducing Emissions from Livestock | Reducing Non-CO2 Industrial & Agricultural Emissions | Managing Large Carbon Sinks

Others - Low Carbon Lifestyles | Multi-stakeholder Collaboration | Moonshots