The Technische Universität Darmstadt dedicated today a pilot plant for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) contained in flue gases of power plants. Its Institute for Energy Systems and Technology plans to utilize the plant for investigating two innovative methods for CO2 capture that require less energy and lower operating costs than earlier approaches.
Combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, fuel oil, or natural gas, liberates large quantities of carbon dioxide, a gas that significantly affects global climate. A key technology that would reduce emissions and lead to more environmentally friendly power plants is the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from flue gases of power plants (carbon capture and storage (CCS))…
Earlier approaches to CO2-capture require expending significantly more energy and entail greatly increased operating costs, which raises questions regarding their efficiency and acceptance. The TU Darmstadt’s Institute for Energy Systems and Technology’s new pilot plant will be utilized for investigating two new methods for CO2 capture that will allow nearly totally eliminating CO2 emissions and require virtually no additional energy input and entail only slight increases in operating costs.
Over the next two years, the institute’s director, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Epple, and his 26 coworkers will be investigating the “carbonate looping” and “chemical looping” methods for CO2 capture. Both methods employ natural substances and reduce the energy presently required for CO2-capture by more than half. As Epple put it, “These methods represent milestones on the way to CO2-free power plants. They might allow coal-fired, oil-fired, and natural-gas-fired power plants to reliably and cost-effectively generate power without polluting the environment.”
The carbonate looping method involves utilizing naturally occurring limestone to initially bind CO2 from the stream of flue gases transiting power plants’ stacks in a first-stage reactor. The resultant pure CO2 is reliberated in a second reactor and can then be stored. The advantage of the carbonate-looping method is that even existing power plants can be retrofitted with this new method.
On new power plants, the chemical looping method will even allow capturing CO2 with hardly any loss of energy efficiency. Under this method, a dual-stage, flameless, combustion yields a stream of exhaust gases containing only CO2 and water vapor. The CO2 can then be captured and stored.
Hope they’re successful. I haven’t an excess of confidence in the politics of coal-generated electricity in the United States. The mentality hasn’t changed since the 1930’s. Rip the coal out of the ground. Burn it. Pay us!
Not only have Europeans a longer timeline of experimentation with some of these processes, there is a tradition of civil service oversight, fiscal and environmental, that may be a pain-in-the-butt sometimes; but, it guarantees fewer lies to citizens, less collaboration between politicians and corporate barons.
Nothing holy or sanctimonious about it. Just systems more reactive and preventive than our two-party tomfoolery. We just witnessed in the Gulf of Mexico how reliable our civil servants can be – when guided by a government in bed with the Oil Patch Boys.