Carbon Capture Facts: October

October 8, 2018 | Blog

This Month 

  • What is Carbon Removal?

  • What is Carbon Utilization? 

    What is Carbon Removal? 

    • Carbon removal refers to the process of taking emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere through natural and technological approaches. Natural approaches use biological processes to improve carbon removal and storage in forests and soils; technological approaches include direct air capture, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and other carbon removal processes to accelerate carbon storage.
      • Direct air capture refers to separating COfrom the atmosphere by chemical means and then storing or using the captured CO2.
      • BECCS involves the conversion of biomass feedstocks into heat or fuel and then capturing and storing the COemitted in the process underground or in beneficial products such as concrete and plastics. This process captures the carbon that has been removed from the atmosphere and has accumulated in the biomass through photosynthesis, thus preventing its return to the atmosphere.
    • The need for carbon removal, along with carbon capture, is becoming more widely accepted as part of international efforts to meet mid-century targets to limit planetary warming to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.

    Fast Facts

    • The USE IT Act, bipartisan carbon capture legislation currently awaiting Senate passage, would:
      • Establish a prize program at EPA providing $25 million annually in competitive financial awards for development and demonstration of direct air capture technology; and
      • Establish a Direct Air Capture Technology Advisory Board to help advise the EPA Administrator on technology research and development issues.
    • Most carbon removal technologies are still in the early developmental stage and can therefore be expensive. With the right policy options in place to support further research and development, capture costs can be significantly reduced in the next decade.

    Why This Matters

    • As the World Resources Institute and others have concluded, carbon removal technologies will be required to support ongoing climate change mitigation efforts. Read more in the new WRI reports released in September 2018
    • Ongoing investment in carbon removal technologies provides an opportunity for the U.S. to build a portfolio of approaches that will have broad-reaching applications and benefits across the economy in coming decades.

    What is Carbon Utilization? 

    • Carbon utilization refers to the beneficial use of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to make a variety of products.
    • Carbon utilization technologies are expanding every day.  One international competition, the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, seeks to incentivize the development of new carbon utilization products and services.
    • Federal initiatives such as The USE IT Act, bipartisan carbon capture legislation currently pending Senate passage, and other federal initiatives would significantly boost carbon utilization efforts by:
      • providing eligible entities with access to emissions and laboratories for testing small-scale CO2 utilization technologies; and
      • providing $50 million in federal funding for carbon utilization research and development.

    Fast Facts

    • Carbon has been utilized in a number of ways for years and new uses are being commercialized at a faster pace now as well. For example:
      • COis used in enhanced oil recovery that involves the injection of COto improve yields from mature oil fields while storing that COgeologically in the process. CO2-EOR produces domestic oil with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, when that COis obtained from power plants and industrial facilities.
      • In a new process that is now being commercialized, recycled COcan be introduced into fresh concrete to make it stronger and reduce the carbon footprint of building projects .
    • The global market for COwas valued at $6 billion annually in 2015 and could double in size by 2023.

    Why This Matters

    • Greater deployment of carbon utilization technologies will increase economic and environmental opportunities for the conversion of industrial emissions into valuable commodities that meet societal needs.
    • A recent report, “Making Carbon a Commodity,” estimates that accelerated research, development and deployment of carbon capture technology could add $190 billion to U.S. annual GDP by 2040 and add 780,000 jobs over the same period.