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Renewable Energy: What If We Can Capture Carbon Dioxide?

Updated on March 18, 2018
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Yusrat is a College student from Bangladesh. She writes about Science & Technology and Current affairs. She is a 1st kyu player in Karate

Our planet earth. 3rd planet of this solar system. Our current world population is approximately 7.2 billion and growing and UNICEF estimates that an average of 353,000 babies are born each day around the world. With this increasing of population, our energy demand is also increasing. A report says the world’s consumption of energy is 5 million terajoules per year. And the main energy source of our energy is Sun. But our energy demand has reached its climax that only solar power is insufficient. So we have started using Coal, Nuclear energy and other sources to meet our energy demand. But mainly we are obtaining the energy through burning fossil fuel. And this combustion is mostly occurred in industries like power plants, garments or even mills. This combustion is emitting a gas called carbon dioxide.

And this CO2 is leading us towards doomsday! Because if we take a look, all we can understand is this toxoid gas is the alpha and omega of climate change. And this climate changes is causing global warming and ocean acidification. So, it’s certainly clear that it is undeniably a global problem and this increasing carbon emission can be compared with “self-destruction”!

Where CO2 Can be Used?

So here, while the human race will always leave its carbon footprint on the Earth, it must continue to find ways to lessen the impact of its fossil fuel consumption. But the question is what can be done to reduce carbon emission. Tons of measures have been taken in past few decades, started from carbon tax on highly carbon emitting countries to encouraging using ecofriendly technology but no effort is coming to use. Now it is essential to find out alternative of carbon combustion. which is also known as Renewable Energy. And here, CO2 capture and sequestration is a set of green technologies that can greatly reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing coal- and gas-fired power plants and large industrial sources.

Here, in our planet earth, gas Plants and other industries produce Carbon dioxide in mainly two forms - Liquid and Solid. Solid CO2 is also known as "dry ice" and it is used as refrigerants in food industry and for small shipments. CO2 is widely utilized during the storage and shipping of ice cream and other frozen foods. In medicine, up to 5% CO2 is added to pure oxygen. This helps in provoking breathing and to stabilize the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in blood. Moreover, it is used as the cheapest noncombustible pressurized gas. Pressured CO2 are inside tins in life jackets.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

CCS applied to a modern conventional power plant can reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by approximately 80–90% compared to a plant without CCS.The IPCC estimates that the economic potential of CCS could be between 10% and 55% of the total carbon mitigation effort until year 2100. A report of World economic forum says recently many American industries are using CCS technology now which is around 20% in number. Even countries like Norway, United Kingdom, Poland, China or even Germany are using this technology to reduce Carbon Emission.

So now the question is what the CCS technology is. Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and storing it in a site, primarily an underground geological formation, where it will not be able to enter the atmosphere. Underground injection and geologic sequestration of the CO2 into deep underground rock formations. These formations are often a mile or more beneath the surface and consist of rock that holds the CO2. Overlying these formations are impermeable, non-porous layers of rock that trap the CO2 and prevent it from migrating upward.

How Does CCS work?

CO2 To Fuel?

Though underground storage is really good way to prevent Carbon dioxide emission into the air, but yet it is not the most productive way. However, the scientists have recently started research on production of fuel from CO2 using solar thermal energy. Researchers at Switzerland have also determined that the effect of CO2 capture leads to small increases in the minimum selling price of methanol. This technology is called Sunshine to Petrol (S2P). They have concentrated solar thermal energy into a solar reactor at 1,500°C for thermochemical splitting of H2O and CO2 into hydrogen and carbon monoxide and succeeded to convert it to kerosene and other liquid fuels. This technology is effective and useful in many ways. All in all it will put CO2 in a good use and will reduce the pressure from nonrenewable energy like fossil fuels.

Watch this incredible video about conversion of CO2 to Fuel!

Carbon dioxide To Fuel
Carbon dioxide To Fuel

Rather than this technology, newly developed Artificial photosynthesis seeks to use the same inputs—solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide—to produce energy-dense liquid fuels. Nocera and Silver’s system uses a pair of catalysts to split water into oxygen and hydrogen and feeds the hydrogen to bacteria along with carbon dioxide. The bacteria convert the carbon dioxide and hydrogen into liquid fuels.But there are plenty other good uses of CO2. Ford is developing foams and plastics using captured carbon dioxide, which could be integrated into the company's vehicles within five years. Captured CO2 is one of the feedstocks for Ford's new biomaterials which is intended for use in vehicle seats and under the hood applications. By using foams and plastics with up to 50% CO2-based polyols, this approach to vehicle manufacturing could have the potential to reduce petroleum usages.

A newly developed, solar powered “leaf” mimics photosynthesis, converting CO2 into fuel
A newly developed, solar powered “leaf” mimics photosynthesis, converting CO2 into fuel

But efforts to make the process, a mainstay of efforts by the power industry to go green are hitting obstacles. Firstly, CCS raises the costs of electricity by between 30 to 80%. A key factor that drives this increase is the energy penalty associated with capture and compression of CO2 to make it ready for transport and injection. Secondly, the molecular structure of CO2 isn’t suitable for storage. Again, Residents and environmental groups have raised concerns about the possibilities of contaminating water. There also are concerns about suffocation if large quantities of carbon dioxide should leak out and collect in valleys.

But all in all, there is no gainsaying that the technology is essential if the world is to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gases and preventing runaway Climate change. The supporters of this technology say C.C.S. is the most viable way to curb emissions from existing fossil fuel plants and that it should be cost-competitive in the coming years. As the separate elements of capture, transportation and storage already have been demonstrated and big engineering companies like Siemens of Germany is helping to construct pilot projects, a commercial-scale facility for capturing and converting carbon dioxide from a power plant is excepting to be built soon. So we can hope that in near future carbon dioxide based renewable energy will be used in a wide range. Because it is essential for a better, healthier and happier life in our earth.

© 2018 Yusrat Sadia Nailat

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      Saliheen 5 weeks ago

      It's soooo good!

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