Technology

We Need a Carbon Removal Master Plan

We need carbon dioxide removal (CDR) strategies to keep temperatures from breaching the limits contained in the Paris Agreement (2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial norms). Even if we were to stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere today we would still need to siphon carbon out of the atmosphere to keep global average temperatures from surpassing the upper threshold temperature limits. Given the scope of the required drawdown, we will need to deploy a full range of CDR strategies that include established technologies as well as innovative approaches. We must simultaneously explore new research directions. An assessment of CDR technologies (NCS,...

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Future Research Directions in Carbon Dioxide Removal

Calls for more research into carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and carbon capture applications are coming from many quarters (Amann and Hartmann, 2019; Landau, 2018; Nekuda, 2019; Bipartisan Policy Center report, 2019; Budinis et al, 2016). We need to build on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report that recommended financial support for a detailed portfolio of NETs R&D totaling $1 billion annually (NAS, 2019) and the 10-year, $10.7 billion R&D commercial readiness innovation program from the think tank Energy Futures Initiative (Bipartisan Policy Center, 2019). We need quantitative approaches that will help us to further refine research...

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Factors Detracting from and Contributing to Carbon Dioxide Removal

CDR is essential for climate mitigation however, there are a host of factors that are impeding its implementation. One of the impediments to deploying CDR is cost related to the technology’s vast energy requirements. CDR at scale would consume vast amounts of energy, it is estimated that the large-scale deployment of DAC will require as much as a quarter of the world’s total energy demands by 2100 (Realmonte, 2019). There are also concerns that the energy required to power CDR at scale would generate emissions. Although some have suggested that this can be addressed by ensuring that these technologies are...

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The Role of the Fossil Fuel Industry in Carbon Capture

The fossil fuel industry has played a pioneering role in advancing carbon capture research. This includes carbon capture and utilization (CCU) for fuel, and enhanced oil recovery or (EOR) that uses captured carbon to extract more oil. Neither CCU nor EOR will enable us to meet the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement (ie keeping temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius). Using captured carbon to make fuel is at best carbon neutral and extracting more oil is fundamentally at odds with efforts to curtail climate change.. Research (Mac Dowell, Fennell, Shah, and Maitland, 2017) clearly shows that converting captured carbon...

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The Most Promising Directions in Negative Emissions Research

In addition to the established carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, there are many innovative approaches that are worth exploring. Here is a summary of 16 promising research directions and approaches that encompass a wide range of technological solutions related to CCS, CCU, and NCS. Some are included because of their novel ability to capture carbon, others because of their innovative incorporation of renewable energy or the utility of their end products.  Polymer membranes submerged in water Due to their relatively low cost, facile fabrication, and straightforward scale-up, polymer membranes have been used as a practical alternative to traditional CCS gas...

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Assessment of Geological Negative Emissions Technology

The success of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as a climate solution depends on the ability to safely and permanently store CO2 (Matter, 2016). To achieve a significant drawdown of CO2, both carbon capture and storage (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC) require sequestration infrastructure to ensure that captured carbon stays out of the atmosphere. According to the EPA, CCS technologies can bury up to 90% of power plant emissions (Hardcastle, 2016). Geologic sequestration has proven itself to be the safest and most enduring way to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. As reviewed above CF has demonstrated that through a...

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Assessment of the Leading Carbon Capture Companies

Here is a technical assessment of six companies leading the carbon capture space. These six companies are those whose core activity is carbon capture and storage (CCS). This includes Net Power and Quest that work exclusively in conjunction with fossil fuels, as well as the more flexible approaches of Carbon Engineering, Global Thermostat, Climeworks, and Carbfix. Assessment of Net Power and Quest Here are two examples of working CCS plants that are used in conjunction with fossil fuel-powered power plants. Both plants have been in operation for years and have amassed ample data to warrant scrutiny. These two companies are...

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Companies Leading Negative Emissions Technology

The Biden administration's support for carbon sequestration is driving an abundance of interest in established companies working in this space.  Here are six of the best companies for negative emissions technology: Net Power, Quest, Carbon Engineering, Global Thermostat, Climeworks and Carbfix.  In previous articles I have explored why we need to siphon greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere,  assessed carbon capture technologies, the cost and scalability of these technologies. In addition to Net Power and Quest, I will review four working examples of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies These are the most well-established pilot projects and commercial demonstration plants in...

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An Assessment of Carbon Removal Technologies

Carbon dioxide reduction (CDR) technologies have made great strides in the last ten years and there is support for the view that they are necessary and will play a major role in efforts to decarbonize our world. CDR includes direct air capture and sequestration (DACCS), carbon capture and utilization (CCU), and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This view is buoyed by pilot projects that have been deployed around the world, however, there is some disagreement about the cost and speed at which they can scale. It is likely that no one technology will dominate, and we will need to co-deploy...

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The Costs and Scalability of Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies

There are good reasons to believe that carbon dioxide reduction (CDR) technologies are viable, however, there are also legitimate concerns about such technologies.   An EASAC report concluded that NETs are unlikely to remove even several GtCO2/year after 2050. "Negative emission technologies may have a useful role to play but, on the basis of current information, not at the levels required to compensate for inadequate mitigation measures," the report stated. Low technological readiness, high costs, and negative effects on terrestrial and marine ecosystems are factors weighing against NETs, it said (EASAC, 2018). Cost is often presented as an important consideration. However,...

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