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Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

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Eliminating CO2 Emissions at Low Cost

The TU Darmstadt’s Institute for Energy Systems and Technology’s newly dedicated pilot plant will be utilized for investigating two new methods for CO2 capture that will allow nearly totally eliminating CO2 emissions and require virtually no additional energy input and entail only slight increases in operating costs.

Known as carbon capture and storage or CCS the new pilot plant might be able to reduce CO2 emissions resulting from the employment of fossil fuels for power generation and other uses in industry to near zero and make available a product for reuse and sales.

During the combustion of fossil fuels reaction, such as coal, fuel oil, or natural gas, large quantities of carbon dioxide, the gas that powers life on earth, could become a recyclable material.

Previous approaches to CO2 capture required expending significantly more energy and entail greatly increased operating costs, which raises questions regarding their efficiency and acceptance.  An experiment of immense cost as the U.S. government has shown.

The TU D Institute’s director, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Epple, and his 26 coworkers will be investigating the “carbonate looping” and “chemical looping” methods for CO2 capture over the next two years.  Both methods employ natural substances and reduce the energy presently required for CO2 capture by more than half. As Epple puts it, “These methods represent milestones on the way to CO2 free power plants. They might allow coal-fired, oil-fired, and natural-gas-fired power plants to reliably and cost-effectively generate power without polluting the environment.”

The carbonate looping method involves utilizing naturally occurring limestone to initially bind CO2 from the stream of flue gases transiting power plants’ stacks in a first-stage reactor. The resultant pure CO2 is then liberated in a second reactor and can then be stored. The advantage of the carbonate-looping method is that even existing power plants can be retrofitted with this new method.

On new power plants, the chemical looping method can allow capturing CO2 with hardly any loss of energy efficiency. Under this method, a dual-stage, flameless, combustion yields a stream of exhaust gases containing only CO2 and water vapor. The CO2 can then be captured and stored.

Due to the pilot plant’s height, the TU Darmstadt has built a new, twenty-meter high experimentation hall on its “Lichtwiese” campus to house it. Construction of the new hall and pilot plant took twenty months. The plant has already demonstrated its ability to bind CO2 in conjunction with initial trial runs.

The investigations of these new methods are being supported with grants totaling seven million Euros from the European Union, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, and various industrial partners supporting the initial trial runs.

It all sounds really good.  As one peruses the block diagrams, even though in German, the temperatures are significant.  900ºC + is quite hot and offers s significant source of recoverable heat as well.  The idea that the process will be so economical begs testing, which is just what is in store.  The “industrial partners” and the rest of us want to know.

Lets suppose the process is a great success.  There will be new demand for limestone, and the market for CO2 would get a huge new supply.

If very cheap, the CO2 supply would go far for supplying recycling organisms.  Its possible that a significant portion of the plants fuel demand could someday be met by recycled CO2 fuel products.

The global warming alarmists have given one golden nugget – the pressure to capture CO2 for reuse.  If the TU D Institute’s ideas come to economical fruition, then a quicker cheaper source of fuel production and a multiple use of the fossil fuel’s carbon could get started.  As either a global warming alarmist or denier that would be a very good thing.  CO2 is a pretty precious commodity, its the fuel of life after all.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Catching CO2 at Low Cost


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Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on November 15 2010 said:
    On the basis of what I know about CCS, I would have to agree with Jeffry Michel when he called it a "thermodynamic travesty". The people who are working to perfect this travesty in Germany should be given something else in the energy field to do, and I do NOT mean designing windmills for installation in the north of Germany.

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