Industrial emissions play a major role in increasing carbon content in the atmosphere. This issue drove scientists to come up with ways to remove carbon pollution from atmosphere which is done by capturing and storing it underground. However, carbon capture is not only efficient but also harmful. So, let us examine a list of 6 advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture and ascertain how to do efficient CO2 management.
Meaning of Carbon Dioxide Removal and Direct Air Capture
CRD or carbon dioxide removal refers to different approaches brought forward to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Different approaches include soil carbon sequestration, DAC (direct air capture), enhanced mineralization, biomass carbon removal, and storage. It also includes afforestation or reforestation, and ocean-based CDR. It is basically a tool to address emissions and decarbonize sectors.
The technology using chemical reactions to pull CO2 from the air is termed Direct Air Capture (DAC). Air moves over chemicals and reacts with them. CO2 is trapped, and other air components pass through them. Solid sorbents and liquid solvents composed of common chemicals are most commonly used for direct air capture. Other systems in development use electrochemical processes. Extracted carbon dioxide is injected deep underground.
6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Carbon Capture
The process of carbon capture can extract CO2 at the point of emission or from the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage is one of the most efficient CO2 extraction methods. It is advantageous to different sectors, economic, social, and environmental.
According to the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, the only accurate carbon capture technology to reduce emissions from industrial plants is CCS. Also, this process is advantageous over other types of carbon removal techniques.
1. Extraction of Pollutants
In one of the CCS processes oxygen is used for oxyfuel combustion and a higher concentration of CO2 was present in the leftover exhaust gas. This makes it easy for carbon dioxide to react with sorbent in the process and be separated.
Particulates released during the emission of oxyfuel combustion during carbon capture and storage can be removed with an electrostatic precipitator. High oxygen concentrations are used in the combustion of oxyfuel. A study conducted by Argonne National Laboratory shows that using oxygen in combustion results in a 50% decrease in Nitrogen Dioxide emission during the combustion process. Emissions are cut in half in comparison to when regular air is used.
2. Reduction in Social Carbon Cost
Carbon capture and storage facilities could benefit the overall productivity in the agriculture sector. Direct removal of CO2 from the source reduces the net damages faced by society as a whole.
The dollar value of the estimated cost and benefits to society from climate change caused by CO2 in the atmosphere is termed the social cost of carbon. It is usually caused by an additional metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere over a year.
3. Reduction in Source Emission
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that CCS could possibly remove around 20% of total CO2 emissions from energy production and industrial facilities. Industries and energy production facilities are responsible for about 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. CCS has the biggest advantage here as it can capture CO2 at these point sources.
4. Generation of Renewable Power
Carbon dioxide stored underground can be used to extract geothermal heat from the same locations. This way it can generate additional renewable power without extra effort. Steam cycles in the process of carbon sequestration are CO2-based and pressurize it into a supercritical fluid. This way more heat is transferred, and steam is compressed with less energy. Turbines run more efficiently following the process.
5. Production of New Chemicals
Captured carbon dioxide can be used in the manufacturing of different chemicals and plastics like polyurethane and polymers. It can also be incorporated into concrete to reinforce it at the manufacturing stage. This increases the durability of infrastructure.
6. Extension of Job Opportunities
Skilled technicians and workers are required for the implementation of CCS operations. There is a high scope for increased job opportunities for technicians, engineers, and other related professionals in this field.
Further, in the advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture, we have covered the disadvantages of this system. Take a look below.
Yes, this most advantageous technology has a couple of issues related to its implementation. There is still scope for improvements in some of its fields.
1. Possible Leakage
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), any leakage of CO2 from a pipeline with a concentration of 7% to 10% in the ambient air could lead to an immediate threat to humans. Though the accident rates during transport at the CCS sites are relatively low, potential leakage risk remains.
Leakage in underground facilities is also possible. With a sudden CO2 leakage at the injection site, it could be risky for humans and animals residing nearby. Leakage from injection wells or fractures in rocks can potentially contaminate soil and groundwater in the area. Plus, if CO2 triggered any seismic activity, it may disrupt the area.
2. Negative Impact on Oil Recovery Process
Enhanced oil recovery is one of the current uses of captured carbon dioxide. Using carbon capture and storage process for oil recovery could defeat its purpose. Captured CO2 is purchased by oil companies and injected into depleted oil wells. This way they can reach otherwise unreachable oil. Burning up that oil will eventually release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. With this, the overall purpose of CCS is defeated.
3. Causation of Cost Overrun
Implementing CCS technology in electric generation plants and industries results in an increase in the overall cost of the end product. The University of Utah mentioned in its research report, about a 50% to 80% increase in electricity costs to pay for implementation of this technology.
The majority of regions do not implement regulatory tools to encourage or incentivize the adoption of CCS. This is the main reason behind this extensive increase in prices of equipment, infrastructure, logistics, and materials for CCS.
4. Formation of Syngas
It is a major disadvantage of removing carbon dioxide from the air through direct air capture techniques. Also, in the pre-combustion carbon capture technique, fuel is treated and a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen is produced. This mixture is known as syngas that reacts with water to form hydrogen which again has high concentrations of CO2. Overall, this process makes capturing a more complex and time-consuming process.
5. Negative Public Perception
No matter what the advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture and storage system are, without people’s support, it is difficult to practice on a general level. Carbon capture and storage facilities pose certain threats and risks to the life and health of humans and animals. Thus, it is not so popular among the public. Also, in a study at the St. Petersburg Mining University, Russia, scientists mentioned that public awareness of CCS is mostly low in many parts of the world.
However, people aware of CCS have positive or neutral responses towards it. But they are skeptical about the carbon storage location.
6. Uncertainty of Storage
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that all countries cannot properly implement CCS as they do not have enough CO2 storage capacity. According to researchers at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, it is difficult to calculate the exact capacities of different storage sites. This indicates that the amount of captured and stored CO2 is different across the countries.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Scientist estimates that for the next 100 years, the United States has enough storage capacity. But beyond this time frame, everything is uncertain.
Also Read: How Many Carbon Credits per Acre of Trees?
6 Ways to Remove Carbon Pollution from Atmosphere
Other than carbon capture and storage through direct air capture, there are other ways to remove CO2. After learning about the advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture, take a look at the ways to remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere.
1. Agricultural Practices
Cover crops are grown via regenerative agricultural practices. This includes less tilling and increased use of biochar, thus helping in the CO2 reduction process. It is a type of charcoal produced from plant matter.
All organic content contains high carbon content. But carbon removal via biomass refers to the ways through which this matter is converted into long-term carbon storage solutions. This method includes burial, bio-oil, or biochar. This is known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). In this method, energy crops are grown to soak up CO2and these plants are burned to generate electricity. Captured CO2 is buried permanently underground.
3. Forest Management
This includes afforestation and reforestation along with improved forest management (IFM) like deferred harvesting. Trees are the ultimate natural and most effective way of reducing CO2 pollution from the air. Other than planting trees, it is essential to maintain existing forests. This can possibly be done with just $20 per ton of CO2 removal.
After disturbances like forest fires, techniques for speedy re-stocking of forests should be applied. Silvopasture can be adopted through which trees can be incorporated into animal agricultural systems. Cropland agroforestry, row crop agriculture system, urban reforestation, and similar processes can be adopted.
This method relies on compounds that naturally react with CO2 and convert it into a solid state. Mineralization is done above or below ground in enhanced weathering processes. Both are forms of engineered carbon removal.
5. Oceanic Carbon Removal and Coastal Blue Carbon
Plants and sediments near marshy land around the sea have a high potential to store carbon. Areas like mangroves, seagrass beds, and tidal areas are considered here. The highest carbon stock per unit area of an ecosystem is contained in these wetlands. But overexploitation of these areas can convert them into sources of emission rather than storage.
6. Importance of Soil in the Carbon Removal Process
Methods directly connected with soil for carbon removal from the atmosphere also exist. Regenerative grazing & agriculture, and soil amendment are included in this method. Regenerative techniques result in improved yields that further reduce carbon emission in the atmosphere and sequestration of prevailing CO2.
8 Ways to Regulate CO2 Management
Carbon dioxide has actively contributed to global warming and rapid climate changes. Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere at this point is the biggest challenge now. But without the necessary measures and steps taken by the present generation, it would be far more dangerous for future generations. Following the advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture and storage, now take a look at the possible ways how to regulate CO2 management.
1. Decarbonize Production Process
Factories and industries are the major CO2 emitters. They need to avoid and reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible during production processes. Technical processes should avoid the usage of fossil fuels. Instead, they can use climate-friendly alternatives or substitute fuels like hydrogen or green power.
Further, there is a need for new production processes that do not involve carbon dioxide. Especially for some industrial processes like aluminum production processes which cannot work without carbon.
2. Save Energy and Power
Maintaining the right temperature for your air conditioner and heater is important. Therefore, keep it 78° Fahrenheit (25° Celsius) in summer and 67° Fahrenheit (19° Celsius) in winter. This will save energy and a good amount of money on your energy bills.
Switching off lights and fans is important, but unplugging devices is equally important. Plugged-in devices also consume power even when they are not being used.
3. Avoid Plastic
The most common use of plastic in your life doesn’t include shopper bags but water bottles. Instead, you should use reusable or thermal bottles that will serve you longer and in all temperatures. Yes, plastic water bottles are a major part of everyone’s lives, but it is high time, and you should adopt the change.
4. Reduce Landfills
Do not dump non-disposable items in landfills. Items which no longer are useful to you, sell or donate (if in usable condition) them. For things that cannot be reused, you can always try to recycle and repurpose them.
5. Save Fuel
Following traffic rules and driving at the speed limit will save fuel and reduce emissions. Use the accelerator lightly, park, and walk to get the order instead of waiting in the drive-thru with the engine on.
For longer distances, use public transport, carpool, or similar means at least once a week. This way you won’t be adding more carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
6. Maintain Tires
Keep your car tires properly inflated, and regular tune-ups should be done. Deflated tires put more pressure and effort into moving, which in turn wastes gas and increases emissions from your vehicle.
7. Prefer Cold Water Wash
Yes, use cold water cycles for washing your clothes and doing laundry in full loads. This decreases water and energy usage. Plus, it saves time and money.
8. Regularize Walking
Using bikes or cars for short distances increases pollution and wastes your time when you’re stuck in a traffic jam. This is why we recommend you regularize walking for short distances. You will benefit much more from its health-wise also.
The advantages and disadvantages of carbon capture and storage give a clear view of how CO2 emissions should be controlled. Also, it tells us how the end result is affected and uncertain due to some reasons like the uncertainty of storage capacity and locations. Even though the system is useful, without proper information and measures people are skeptical about it. Share this piece of information and spread the word about CCS and raise awareness.
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