In order to slow global warming and leave a habitable Earth for future generations, we must drastically cut back on the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere. In this regard, carbon capture and carbon sequestration are two viable options, but with slightly distinct processes. The term “carbon capture” refers to the process of preventing carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere immediately after they have been released. When carbon is sequestered, it is stored in various environmental reservoirs rather than being released back into the atmosphere. New and existing coal and gas-fired power stations, as well as big industrial sources, can greatly benefit from carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and sequestration (CCS) systems, which are designed to significantly lower CO2 emissions. Businesses can reduce their carbon footprints with the help of sustainability techniques like carbon capture and sequestration. Combating global warming requires an appreciation of their mechanisms and the factors that distinguish them from one another. Instead of just storing the captured CO2 underground, it may be put to better use in the manufacturing of products and in industrial and other operations. As a result of its widespread application, the abbreviation CCUS has emerged (carbon capture, utilization, and storage). Depending on the application and the fuels or other materials that are being replaced by CO2, the number of emissions avoided will vary. Some uses, like soda carbonation, release the CO2 immediately upon opening and are therefore not acceptable utilization options; this means that their eventual consequences on climate change rely on whether or not these uses lead to permanent sequestration of the CO2. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is one of the most important applications of CO2 because it improves oil extraction by using a combination of CO2 and water to push oil up the well, and it also allows for the CO2 to be sequestered underground. CCS facilities can generate income from CO2 sales for EOR and other applications, which can encourage the expansion of CCS infrastructure and use.

How is it done: Steps involved in Capturing Carbon

As a rule, there are three main phases involved in implementing CCS at a power plant or industrial facility: capture, transit, and storage.

CO2 can be captured at the facility that is releasing it by a number of different technologies. Existing power plants typically use post-combustion carbon capture, whereas pre-combustion carbon capture is more common in industrial operations and oxyfuel combustion systems are the third category. To implement post-combustion carbon capture, CO2 is first extracted from the flue gas produced during combustion. While pre-combustion capture systems are now in widespread use in industrial facilities, they are still in the research and development phase for application in power plants. Fuel is gasified, and carbon dioxide is extracted, using this method. It could be less expensive than competing strategies, but it can only be used in brand-new facilities; retrofitting an existing one would be extremely expensive. Combustion of oxy-fuel produces a more concentrated stream of CO2 emissions that is simpler (and cheaper) to capture since the fuel is burned in a virtually pure-oxygen environment rather than normal air.

After carbon dioxide has been collected, it is sent to a storage facility through pipelines, ships, and sometimes even trains, where it is chilled to extremely low temperatures and compressed into a fluid.

In the third stage, instead of releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere, it is injected into subsurface geological formations for long-term storage. Locations utilized to store carbon dioxide include depleted oil and gas fields, deep saline deposits, and coal beds.

Challenges to carbon capture and sequestration

It is expected that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will play a significant role in the shift to zero net emissions. It’s common knowledge, nevertheless, that a lot of obstacles stand between widespread implementation and adoption. Although the prohibitive cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) has received a lot of attention, it is not the only barrier to the wider implementation of the technology. 

Major Challenges to CCS:

  • Cost of Implementation
  • Transportation Challenges
  • Storage Considerations
  • Uncertain Public Support

Future and scope of carbon capture and sequestration

Up to one-third of a facility’s power capacity is used up by carbon capture, increasing prices and putting the economic sustainability of carbon capture projects on the brink. As a result of these prices, several carbon capture facilities are temporarily inoperable. Financial constraints prevent the full potential of carbon capture from being realized at this time due to the market’s rapid escalation and inflation. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, the future of carbon capture is brighter than ever before for three main reasons.

Carbon capture may overcome cost obstacles and provide a competitive option for meeting net-zero targets with the right level of industry collaboration, government assistance, and innovative supply chain solutions. This innovation now has a brighter future than ever before.