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🌳 "Carbon Capture & Storage Is Making a Comeback"

Catalyst with Shayle Kann

Photo by Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Shayle Kann
Guest: Chris Bataille | Professor | Simon Fraser University
Category: 🌳 Carbon Capture | CCS

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:53] SK: “Carbon capture, not carbon removal, but point source capture is making a comeback. After a string of relatively high profile failures and cost overruns, a lot of people basically wrote off the idea of capturing CO2 directly from flue stacks at industrial and power generation facilities. But don't count it out. The global capacity of planned CCS, carbon capture and sequestration projects, grew 50% just over nine months last year, to a total of 111 million tonnes, which would triple the current operating capacity in the world.”

[6:42] CB: “CCS got started, because in the mid 90s, some companies that were working with methane and what have you needed CO2 and they just by themselves started separating it out and getting the CO2 out of it. […] It's an engineering technology that works. Everyone got excited about this, and immediately made this mental jump that, we can do this with coal, electricity plants, and keep coal plants going globally […] and we don't have to worry about coal. The problem is going from breaking apart methane into its constituents, as opposed to using flue gas from coal is a completely different problem. So we had these experiments through the 2000s up to 2010, where we just had a whole series of high profile failures, partly because we were doing a much harder problem, which is coal flue gas in the presence of nitrogen.”

[9:32] CB: “The first high profile success was the Sleipner offshore platform in 1996. […] Driven by the Norwegian carbon tax, their gas processor was stripping out the CO2 and reinjecting it into a deep saline aquifer below the gas producing layer. […] It [cost] about $15 to $20 a tonne operating life […]. Now we could have been doing this with gas processing […] across North America. But we didn't require it. […] But the core thing is that Equinor was working with a concentrated flow of CO2. So anywhere in an industrial process where you're getting out pure CO2, you can compress it and push it back down underground. So fertilizer plants could have been doing this by now, ethanol plants could have been doing this by now.”

[16:09] CB: “The first biggest application that actually reduces emissions, if you do it properly, is enhanced oil recovery. Because you're using older wells, you're pushing the CO down to increase the miscibility and repressurize the well, and it's far less emissions intense than […] oil sands and what have you. But you have to make sure that the well stays tight afterwards. […] The first biggest […] CCU use is actually enhanced oil recovery in place of other higher emitting oil sources as we climb down from 100 million barrels a day down to zero sometime mid century.”

[18:30] CB: “The numbers I typically see is we will utilize less than 10% of [CO2]. Most of it has to go into deep storage, be it depleted oil and gas reservoirs with tight over seal, or into deep saline aquifers. The vast majority has to go into permanent storage without utilization.”

[19:03] CB: “You'll see a lot of conflicting numbers about deep saline aquifers. They typically underlay most sedimentary basins globally. So where you find oil and gas, you go a layer deeper, that's where you find the deep saline. […] You have to drill deep, which means that you have to compress, so there's going to be an electricity cost compressing to get it in there. […] The utilizable numbers are roughly 1,000 gigatons, which is more than the current budget for 1.5 C. And the IEA says something like 2,000 to 3,000 gigatons and really there's probably tens of thousands of potential deep saline aquifers available globally.”

[22:07] CB: “If you're working with a clean flue gas or methane or some version thereof, [point source capture] works just fine. The problem was going to coal and coal flue gas. We ran into a bottleneck there. People have experimented with lots of different versions of amine solutions. There's talk of moving to ceramic filters. […] But versions of amine separation are still our main way forward, which means that you're sticking with clean feedstock to feed the process.”

[26:06] CB: “We're going to need [CCS] for cement, because there are no alternative chemistries coming down the pipe anytime soon. And there are a lot of buildings that need to be built. So we need to figure out how to make basically zero emissions clinkers that get ground up and mixed for cement that holds concrete together. The other sector is chemicals. Chemicals is the fastest growing industrial sector, while demand is roughly flat globally for steel and cement.”

[34:11] “CDR is basically an admission of failure that we did not mitigate fast enough. […] We're going to need technical CDR. I'm somewhat dubious about bioenergy with CCS just because of land use requirements. […] So the key CDR technologies in my mind will be direct air capture with CCS, because what CCS does is it takes the CO2 taken by the direct air capture unit and pushes it back underground, and probably some forms of geological weathering. And it's going to be a big business. We're talking at least 1-5 gigatons per year. And if we really slow down on the mitigation, we've got to go north of 10-20 gigatons per year to get the cumulative CO2 under control.”

[35:21] “CCS is neither bad nor good. It's a tool. And it's a complex tool with shades of gray attached to it. When you're listening to debates about CCS, you need to know about the details, the differences and concentration, concentrated flows versus post combustion. Concentrated is commercial today, post combustion is not. We're going to need some CCS for certain sectors. But if somebody tells you that we absolutely need CCS for steel, that's just not the case.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 37 min | 🗓️ 04/07/2022
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