Sunday Feb 05, 2023

How Companies are Trying to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint By Using Carbon Capture Technology?

How companies are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by using carbon capture technology

Estimates range from $300 billion to $50 trillion of investments is needed in the next 20 years to control climate change. Recently, Tata group made an announcement stating that Tata Chemicals Europe had  set up UK’s very first industrial scale carbon capture plant. This isn’t Tata’s first project using this technology, a year ago Tata steel commenced one such plant in India too. But what exactly does carbon capture technology mean exactly?

Humans are serial offenders when it comes to carbon pollution, estimates peg that humans pump around 50 billion tons of toxic gases into the atmosphere every year. These carbon pollutants in turn alter global climatic conditions and induce serious weather events such as scorching heat during summers, chilling winters and unseasonal rains etc.  Greenhouse gases need to be drastically cut if we want our planet to be safe and habitable for future generations. Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 should be the goal to achieve this.

One novel process to deal with carbon emissions is the process of carbon dioxide removal. This is achieved by removing carbon dioxide from factory emissions, solidifying this carbon and burying it deep underground. This process is called carbon capture and storage or CCS technology. The factory emissions are treated with a liquid mixture of chemicals such as mono ethanol amine (MEA). This solvent absorbs carbon dioxide from the emissions. The solvent is then heated in another tower called the stripper and then rerouted to an underground storage facility.

The drawback of this technology is storage, even if the captured carbon is buried kilometers under the ground the carbon will find a way to seep out and destroy the ecology. This in turn could acidify the soil and find a way into the oceans or even trigger earthquakes.

The Tata group in the UK has found a solution to this problem. Instead of dumping the carbon deep underground, they plan to put the carbon dioxide to good use. They plan to trap carbon from a methane based power plant, purify it and turn it into raw material. This process is called carbon capture and utilization or CCU. The captured carbon dioxide will then be used to produce sodium bicarbonate with the lowest carbon footprint in the world. The product obtained as the end product is called EcoCarb. EcoCarb will be used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical grade products glass, detergents and even food. It can also be used to treat patients of kidney diseases through hemo dialysis.

Currently, it’s cheaper to let carbon emit out of power plants than to install carbon capture plants. For instance the Tata’s new CCU plant in UK costs 20 million pounds. However, business leader like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been encouraging the implementation of carbon capture technologies. Maybe the costs will reduce due to more innovations in future and such carbon capturing plants will be viable for smaller scales as well.

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