CCS Carbon Capture And Storage – Treating the symptoms not the disease

Let us say that you had an operable form of cancer and your doctor offered you chemotherapy. What would you say to him? Let us imagine that you had a torn tendon and your doctor offered you aspirin as your main form of treatment. What would you say? Actually you would probably CHANGE doctors…

So what would you say to this:

ADM begins carbon capture work

Fri. February 20, 2009; Posted: 03:58 PM

DECATUR, Feb 20, 2009 (Herald & Review – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — ADM | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRatingDrilling began this week for a carbon dioxide injection well as part of an $84.3 million project beneath Archer Daniels Midland Co. property.Workers have started constructing a well that will reach more than 6,500 feet underground. The drilling of the injection well is expected to be completed in late March or early April.

No objections were filed before a late January deadline for an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency permit approving the process. That clears the way for the drilling equipment to be moved into place, said Sallie Greenberg, Illinois Geological Survey communications coordinator.  The project is intended to capture carbon dioxide from ADM’s ethanol plant, convert it into liquid and pump it underground for storage before it’s emitted into the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy expects 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from the plant to be injected over a three-year period, beginning in early 2010.  The project is intended to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.

Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium receives Phase III funding
Storage, Feb  21  2008 (Carbon Capture Journal)

The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), and the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) have been awarded a $66.7 million contract from the US DOE.

The funding is to conduct a Phase III large-scale sequestration demonstration project in the Mt. Simon Sandstone.

The MGSC, ISGS, and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) will work together on this carbon sequestration project, which will involve the capture and storage of CO2 from ADM’s ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois.

The $84.3 million project will be funded by $66.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy over a period of seven years, supplemented by cofunding from ADM, Schlumberger Carbon Services, and other corporate and state resources.

The project is designed to confirm the ability of the Mt. Simon Sandstone, a major regional saline reservoir in Illinois, to accept and store 1 million metric tonnes of CO2 over a period of three years.


Already they are a year behind..Why does this sound like a replay of NUCLEAR Power. Delays….Cost over runs….Accidents… All to avoid leaving the nasty stuff in the ground in the first place. Even Scientific America gets into the act:

Can Carbon Capture and Storage Save Coal?

Capturing carbon dioxide may be the only hope to avoid a climate change catastrophe from burning fossil fuels

By David Biello


OXYFUEL: In September 2007 the oxyfuel combustion chamber is lifted into place at the Schwarze Pumpe power plant in Germany–one of the first power plants in the world to capture carbon dioxide.
Courtesy of Vattenfal

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of five features on carbon capture and storage, running daily from April 6 to April 10, 2009.

Like all big coal-fired power plants, the 1,600-megawatt-capacity Schwarze Pumpe plant in Spremberg, Germany, is undeniably dirty. Yet a small addition to the facility—a tiny boiler that pipes 30 MW worth of steam to local industrial customers—represents a hope for salvation from the global climate-changing consequences of burning fossil fuel.

To heat that boiler, the damp, crumbly brown coal known as lignite—which is even more polluting than the harder black anthracite variety—burns in the presence of pure oxygen, a process known as oxyfuel, releasing as waste both water vapor and that more notorious greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). By condensing the water in a simple pipe, Vattenfall, the Swedish utility that owns the power plant, captures and isolates nearly 95 percent of the CO2 in a 99.7 percent pure form.

That CO2 is then compressed into a liquid and given to another company, Linde, for sale; potential users range from the makers of carbonated beverages, such as Coca-Cola, to oil firms that use it to squeeze more petroleum out of declining deposits. In principle, however, the CO2 could also be pumped deep underground and locked safely away in specific rock formations for millennia.

From the International Energy Agency to the United Nations–sanctioned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such carbon capture and storage (CCS), particularly for coal-fired power plants, has been identified as a technology critical to enabling deep, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. After all, coal burning is responsible for 40 percent of the 30 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted by human activity every year.

“There is the potential for the U.S. and other countries to continue to rely on coal as a source of energy while at the same time protecting the climate from the massive greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal,” says Steve Caldwell, coordinator for regional climate change policy at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Even President Barack Obama has labeled the technology as important for “energy independence” and included $3.4 billion in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for “clean coal” power.

Today three types of technology can capture CO2 at a power plant. One, as at Schwarze Pumpe, involves the oxyfuel process: burning coal in pure oxygen to produce a stream of CO2-rich emissions. The second uses various forms of chemistry—in the form of amine scrubbers, special membranes or ionic liquids—to pull carbon dioxide out of a more mixed set of exhaust gases. The third is gasification, in which liquid or solid fuels are first turned into synthetic natural gas; CO2 from the conversion of the gas can be siphoned off.


Then there is this:

NO, NO, NO.  Carbon Capture and Storage is not the answer!  It is treating the symptoms and not the disease.

I recently wrote a blog looking at this same issue:, we can take BILLIONS and spend it on burying something underground, or we can spend that money and put it to good use while taking the same amount of CO2 out of the air.

Carbon Capture is short term decision making and thinking that is mainly being promoted by the Coal Industry.  Would you really call Carbon Capture a sustainable practice?


Backed up by this:


Carbon Capture and Storage – Solution or Fantasy?

(Disclaimer:  the below article is a thought experiment.  I’m not suggesting it as a real solution, but rather a way to analyze two different carbon mitigating strategies.  Enjoy!)

You might have seen the environmental articles recently related to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).  Basically, all CCS does is take the CO2 that coal plants produce, collect it, and pump it underground.  Sounds like a good idea right?  Well, on the surface it does, but let’s dig down into the actual numbers a little bit.

In order to better understand the proposed function of CCS, let’s walk through a comparison of a power generation plant with and without CCS.  I’m going to look at two options:

  • Option 1: 500 MW (capacity before CCS) IGCC (type of coal plant)  with Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Option 2: 500 MW IGCC plant with the money that would be used on CCS to be spent on a wind farm

In comparing our two options, pretend you’re the President of Power Generation Company for planet Earth (this is a made up company.  The point is you base your decisions on what is best for the planet and the people buying your power.  You don’t base your decisions on politics).  In both options the 500 MW IGCC plant is already installed, you are just comparing whether to spend money on carbon capture and storage, or take the equivalent amount of money and use it for another purpose that would help the environment, in this case a wind farm.

You may ask: Why do I want to install a wind farm if my goal is to reduce CO2 (even though your real goal is to do what’s best for Earth)? Because you are all powerful, you are going to figure out how much energy the wind farm produces, then find an old dirty coal plant that produces the same amount of energy, and take that coal plant off line.  Therefore, reducing the amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere by enabling the old coal plant to be taken off line, and also helping wind power reach economies of scale.

Installing CCS or a Wind Farm that replaces old Coal:

A recent paper by David and Herzog at MIT estimated the future cost of CCS at $1,145/kw (estimated cost in 2012) of installed power.  So, for the 500 MW  IGCC plant, it would cost $572.5 million dollars to install CCS technology.  Now, you have the option of taking this money and using it to buy a Wind Farm instead.  The American Wind Energy Association states that it costs about $ 1 million to install 1 MW of generating capacity for a wind farm.  Therefore, $572.5 million will enable you to install 572 MW of installed wind energy (with $500 k left over)!

In order to analyze how much CO2 will be kept out of the atmosphere by taking the old coal plant off line, we have to calculate the yearly power output of the wind farm.  To do this, you need what is called a Capacity Factor.  Basically, this is just the percentage of time during the year that a power producing facility produces power at its rated capacity.  The organization National Wind Watch states that in 2003, the average capacity factor for US wind farms was 26.9%.  Therefore, to calculate how much energy the wind farm produces (MWh) during the year:

Yearly Output (MWh) = (installed capacity)*(capacity factor)*(hours in a day)*(days in a year) =

(572 MW)(.269)(24 hours/day)(365 days/year) = 1,347,884 MWh/year

Now we have to use this value to decide how big a coal plant this would replace.  Using the wind farm yearly output and the average capacity factor for Coal plants in the US, which is 73.6%, we can use the above Yearly Energy Output equation to back-solve for the “installed capacity” the wind farm would replace:

Installed Capacity (MW) = (yearly output) ÷ (Capacity factor * hours in a day * days in a year) =

(1,347,884) ÷ (.736*24*365) = 209 MW

Therefore, if you use the $527.5 million dollars it would cost to install CCS on a 500 MW IGCC coal plant for a wind farm, the energy the wind farm produces is equivalent to a 209 MW pulverized coal plant!


I believe the MATH has it…


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