Large Scale Carbon Capture Without The Technology

We humans are in something of a pickle, as we’ve put too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and caused climate change that might even wipe us out. There may still be people to whom that’s a controversial statement, but knowing something needs to be done about it should be a position for which you don’t necessarily have to be a climate change activist glueing yourself to the gates of a refinery.

It’s obvious that we can reduce our CO2 emissions to tackle the problem, but that’s not the only way that atmospheric CO2 can be reduced. How about removing it from the air? It’s an approach that’s being taken seriously enough for a number of industrial carbon capture solutions to be proposed, and even for a pilot plant to be constructed in Iceland. The most promising idea is that CO2 from power stations can be injected into porous basalt rock where it can react to form calcium carbonate. All of which is very impressive, but is there not a way that this can be achieved without resorting to too much technology? Time for Hackaday to pull out the back-of-envelope calculator, and take a look. Continue reading “Large Scale Carbon Capture Without The Technology”

Creating Methane From Captured Carbon Dioxide And The Future Of Carbon Capture

There’s something intrinsically simple about the concept of carbon (CO2) capture: you simply have the CO2 molecules absorbed or adsorbed by something, after which you separate the thus captured CO2 and put it somewhere safe. Unfortunately, in physics and chemistry what seems easy and straightforward tends to be anything but simple, let alone energy efficient. While methods for carbon capture have been around for decades, making it economically viable has always been a struggle.

This is true both for carbon capture and storage/sequestration (CCS) as well as carbon capture and utilization (CCU). Whereas the former seeks to store and ideally permanently remove (sequester) carbon from the atmosphere, the latter captures carbon dioxide for use in e.g. industrial processes.

Recently, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has announced a breakthrough CCU concept, involving using a new amine-based solvent (2-EEMPA) that is supposed to be not only more efficient than e.g. the previously commonly used MEA, but also compatible with directly creating methane in the same process.

Since methane forms the major component in natural gas, might this be a way for CCU to create a carbon-neutral source of synthetic natural gas (SNG)? Continue reading “Creating Methane From Captured Carbon Dioxide And The Future Of Carbon Capture”