Science & Technology

Carbon Capture & Storage: Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Researchers Reveal Cost of Key Climate Solution

Carbon Capture Concept

Maybe the perfect hope for slowing local weather change — capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions underground — has remained elusive due partly to uncertainty about its financial feasibility.

In an effort to supply readability on this level, researchers at Stanford College and Carnegie Mellon College have estimated the power calls for concerned with a important stage of the method. Watch video right here:

Their findings, printed April 8 in Environmental Science & Know-how, recommend that managing and disposing of excessive salinity brines — a by-product of environment friendly underground carbon sequestration — will impose important power and emissions penalties. Their work quantifies these penalties for various administration eventualities and supplies a framework for making the strategy extra power environment friendly.

“Designing large new infrastructure programs for geological carbon storage with an appreciation for the way they intersect with different engineering challenges — on this case the issue of managing excessive salinity brines — will probably be important to maximizing the carbon advantages and decreasing the system prices,” mentioned research senior creator Meagan Mauter, an affiliate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford College.

Attending to a clear, renewable power future received’t occur in a single day. One of the bridges on that path will contain coping with carbon dioxide emissions — the dominant greenhouse fuel warming the Earth — as fossil gas use winds down. That’s the place carbon sequestration is available in. Whereas most local weather scientists agree on the necessity for such an strategy, there was little readability concerning the full lifecycle prices of carbon storage infrastructure.

An essential facet of that evaluation is knowing how we’ll handle brines, extremely concentrated salt water that’s extracted from underground reservoirs to extend carbon dioxide storage capability and decrease earthquake threat. Saline reservoirs are the almost definitely storage locations for captured carbon dioxide as a result of they’re giant and ubiquitous, however the extracted brines have a median salt focus that’s almost thrice greater than seawater.

These brines will both must be disposed of through deep effectively injection or desalinated for helpful reuse. Pumping it underground — an strategy that has been used for oil and fuel trade wastewater — has been linked to elevated earthquake frequency and has led to important public backlash. However desalinating the brines is considerably extra expensive and power intensive due, partly, to the effectivity limits of thermal desalination applied sciences. It’s a vital, advanced step with a probably big price ticket.

The brand new research is the primary to comprehensively assess the power penalties and carbon dioxide emissions concerned with brine administration as a perform of numerous carbon transport, reservoir administration and brine remedy eventualities within the U.S. The researchers centered on brine remedy related to storing carbon from coal-fired energy vegetation as a result of they’re the nation’s largest sources of carbon dioxide, essentially the most cost-effective targets for carbon seize and their places are typically consultant of the placement of carbon dioxide level sources.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the research discovered greater power penalties for brine administration eventualities that prioritize remedy for reuse. In truth, brine administration will impose the biggest post-capture and compression power penalty on a per-tone of carbon dioxide foundation, as much as an order of magnitude larger than carbon transport, based on the research.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” mentioned research lead creator Timothy Bartholomew, a former civil and environmental engineering graduate pupil at Carnegie Mellon College who now works for KeyLogic Methods, a contractor for the Division of Power’s Nationwide Power Know-how Laboratory. “Even engineered options to carbon storage will impose power penalties and end in some carbon emissions. In consequence, we have to design these programs as effectively as potential to maximise their carbon discount advantages.”

Options could also be at hand.

The power penalty of brine administration could be decreased by prioritizing storage in low salinity reservoirs, minimizing the brine extraction ratio and limiting the extent of brine restoration, based on the researchers. They warn, nonetheless, that these approaches carry their very own tradeoffs for transportation prices, power penalties, reservoir storage capability and secure charges of carbon dioxide injection into underground reservoirs. Evaluating the tradeoffs will probably be important to maximizing carbon dioxide emission mitigation, minimizing monetary prices and limiting environmental externalities.

“There are water-related implications for many deep decarbonization pathways,” mentioned Mauter, who can also be a fellow on the Stanford Woods Institute for the Surroundings. “The secret is understanding these constraints in enough element to design round them or develop engineering options that mitigate their impression.”

Reference: “Power and CO2 Emissions Penalty Ranges for Geologic Carbon Storage Brine Administration” by Timothy V. Bartholomew and Meagan S. Mauter, 25 March 2021, Environmental Science & Know-how.

Funding: Nationwide Science Basis, ARCS Basis, US Division of Power

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