What is Carbon Capture and Sequestration?
While much of the world is working toward switching to cleaner sources of energy, including wind and solar, technology is finding a way to help make the process of traditional power generation safer for the environment. One such method is called carbon capture and sequestration, and it’s one of the ways companies and power plants are working to minimize their impact on the environment.
How Does Carbon Dioxide Affect the Environment?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses form a sort of blanket in the earth’s atmosphere trapping heat from the sun. Carbon capture locks away those CO2 emissions to prevent them from making their way into the atmosphere.
How does Carbon Capture Work?
There are two primary methods that companies, power plants, and other industries can employ to capture carbon before it escapes into the air.
- Pre-combustion - Before it’s burned, traditional fuels are loaded into a pressurized container where they are exposed to high temperatures. This oxidizes the fuels and produces a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, also known as “syngas.” The carbon can then be removed from the mixture, while the hydrogen is burned to produce energy.
- Post-combustion - After a traditional fuel is burned, the resulting CO2 can be captured before it’s expelled into the air. This can be achieved by installing absorption towers in place of smokestacks.
After either one of these processes, the captured carbon can be stored in a few different ways. The most common method is to inject it deep underground where it becomes trapped by porous rocks and salt deposits. These layers are nearly impermeable and will prevent the CO2 from leaking back out of the ground and re-entering the atmosphere. Other methods of CO2 storage include injecting it into deep areas of the ocean or using heat and pressure to condense it into solid minerals. However, these processes have other environmental implications that aren’t yet fully understood, which is why injecting the carbon underground is the most popular storage method. Additionally, employing any method of carbon capture and sequestration can be extremely costly.
Additional Methods of Carbon Capture and Reduction
Besides carbon capture and sequestration, industries and scientists are looking into several other methods of carbon control, such as:
Afforestation and Reforestation - Creating and replanting forests is one of the best natural solutions to removing CO2 from the air. As trees photosynthesize, they remove CO2 from the air and turn it into sugar. However, trees and forests take quite a long time to grow, and decades of management can be undone by a single fire or parasite infestation.
CO2 Removal Plants - Swiss Climeworks, Canadian Carbon Engineering, and American Global Thermostat have plans to build large scale direct air capture plants that suck in air and move it over carbon-absorbing materials, which can help remove excess CO2 from our atmosphere.
Ocean Fertilization - By adding nutrients to our oceans, we can encourage the growth of phytoplankton which will absorb CO2 through photosynthesis. However, it’s important to consider the potential environmental side effects of these algal blooms.
Look into Carbon Reduction Solutions for your Business
While technology may be advancing in carbon capture and sequestration, the best way to reduce carbon remains using cleaner energy sources and implementing more efficient ways to utilize energy. At IGS, we’re proud to support renewable energy and other methods of helping companies reduce their carbon footprint. Whether it’s our robust commercial solar offerings, combined heat and power, or our LED lighting solutions that can help you use less energy, we’re here to help you, and the Earth.