Friday, 2 March 2012

Carbon Capture

The process is based on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage (CCS), alternatively referred to as carbon capture and sequestration, mitigates global warming. Some estimates claim that CCS when applied to a modern conventional power plant could reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by approximately 80-90% compared to a plant without CCS.

The storage of the CO2 is envisaged either in deep geological formations, in deep ocean masses, or in the form of mineral carbonates. In the case of deep ocean storage, there is a risk of greatly increasing the problem of ocean acidification. Also, India had expressed concern (in 2007) that the stored CO2 may leak into the environment and is thus wary of CCS.1

Nonetheless research is being undertaken on finding viable storage areas and technologies to use this carbon efficiently. For eg: passing carbon over slag (from steel industries) can convert it into a strong material useful in construction; passing it over algae can make them useful in generating biofuels.  However the costs for these applications are still prohibitively high. More investment is required to make them viable.2

Indian govt position supports research and development that would reduce CO2 emissions. This is in light of India’s commitments to reduce carbon emissions upto 25% by 2020. Given that coal power plants account for the lion share of India's carbon dioxide emissions, the government is keen to study CCS. 3

2.     “Carbon Capture may make economic sense”, The Hindu, 27th July 2011.

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