Algae cultivation to zero emissions
Photo credit - Diomari Madulara, http://Unsplash.io
Welcome to the ninth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Breaking from my weekly look at an individual country, this week my blog will feature an A – Z of CCUS and explanations for what technical terms associated with CCUS mean such as desalination, hydrocarbons, and sequestration.
A Algae cultivation, microalgae can absorb CO2 in algae ponds and convert it into byproducts such as proteins, biomass, and fertilizer. Pond Technologies located in Markham, Ontario, Canada is a good example of a company that uses algae to convert CO2 into a viable byproduct.
B Boundary Dam, an integrated carbon capture and storage demonstration project and the largest project of its kind in the world. It is a coal-fueled power station and is reducing CO2 emissions by 1 millions tonnes per annum. Boundary Dam receives delegations from China on almost a weekly basis, knowledge gained from these trips should assist China with the reduction of CO2 emissions from its over-reliance on coal-fueled power stations as a source of energy.
C Conversion, CO2 can be converted into various different products using CCUS technologies such as fertilizers, feedstocks, potash, fish food, toothpaste, liquid fuels, reinforced concrete etc.
D Desalination, desalination is the removal of salts and minerals from a substance such as seawater or soil. CO2 is mixed with salt water at high pressure and temperature in order to form hydrates that are removed leaving clean water behind.
E Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), this is a process where CO2 is injected into partly depleted coal seams. The CO2 helps remove fuel from small hard to reach seams and takes the place of the previously lodged fuel. This is a more efficient way of extracting oil from the ground as it reduces drilling and energy costs.
F Fish food, CO2 can be used to produce fish food, a US company called Protein Power uses CO2 for this purpose.
G Geothermal, similar to desalination and EOR, geothermal systems can be used to transfer heat through CO2 turbines. A good example of natural geothermal heating is Geysers found in Iceland.
H Hydrocarbons, CO2 can be converted into hydrocarbons that can be used to make fuels (methanol) and plastics. Hydrocarbon is a compound of hydrogen and carbon and is a primary component of gas and petroleum.
I Injection, CO2 can be stored by injecting it deep underground ( up to 2 km) into rock formations for permanent storage.
J Joint research, In 2009, China and the US who emit more than 40% of global emissions between them, joined forces to create the US-China Clean Energy Center (CERC). The primary goal of this venture is for the two countries to work together in order to advance research and development in the area of clean technologies.
K Kyoto protocol, Kyoto was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) preceding treaty on greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions reductions to the Paris agreement. It was signed in 1997, came into effect in 2005 and the first commitment period expired in 2012.
L Liquid fuels, CO2 can be converted into liquid fuels such as methanol and formic acid. Methanol can be used to fuel vehicles and is also used by the chemical industry. Formic acid can be used as a livestock feed preservative.
M Monitoring, CO2 stored in rock formations underground require constant monitoring during the injection and storage process, and for up to 20 years after the final injection of CO2 before the storage facility can satisfy regulatory requirements from environmental bodies such as EPA.
N Non-conversion, CO2 that is not converted into a byproduct can be used in desalination, EOR, and enhanced geothermal processing.
O Offshore, CO2 can be stored off-shore in disused oil and gas fields e.g. Sleipner CO2 storage project 240 km Southwest of Stavanger Norway.
P Paris agreement, UNFCCC’s successor treaty to Kyoto, signed on Earth Day 2016 and comes into effect in 2020. Once of its primary goals is to:
“hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”
Q Quota, countries are implementing measures such as carbon credits and carbon pricing as ways to incentivise the reduction of CO2 emissions by large industrial companies.
R Reductions, a positive change from Kyoto to Paris is the requirement for participating countries to submit emissions reductions plans as part of their commitment to the Paris agreement.
S Sequestration, sequestration is the technical description for the long-term storage of CO2.
T Transportation, CO2 for storage, is transported off-site from the facility where it was created such as an oil refinery by pipelines buried about one metre underground.
U Utilisation, captured carbon can be used for conversion into byproducts mentioned above or for non-conversion such as desalination and enhanced oil recovery.
V Venture capital, both national governments, and green funds are investing in CCUS technologies. An example of such investment is Inventys Thermal Technologies by large finance houses such as Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Mitsui, and Roda Group.
W Waste CO2, waste CO2 can be converted into stone and biofuel.
X Xprize, NRG COSIA Xprize is a “$20 Million global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials, alternative fuels, and other items that we use every day”. 27 teams from around the world advanced to semi-final stage of the competition in October 2016.
Y Yield, urea yield boosting is a process where CO2 and ammonia are converted into urea fertilizer. Urea fertilizer is used to aid agricultural crop growth.
Z Zero emissions, this is the ultimate goal and if it is ever to be achieved, it will occur after decades of hard graft and commitment from all major stakeholder groups such as national governments, oil, gas, and coal companies, large industrial manufacturers and the wider public.
www.pembina.org and https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/ are excellent resources for additional information on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage.