Even before we get into the actual capture of carbon dioxide, where in the atmosphere CO2 his?
He’s been here forever. From the time when the Earth was just forming, there were far more of them than today. Over time, along with how the world’s flora developed, with photosynthesis this CO content2 decreased and oxygen increased.
How do we, humanity, add fuel to the fire?
The peculiarity of this phenomenon is that we burn fossil fuels that have been bound to carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a geological layer was formed from it, and we are now burning it up to 50 million times faster than it was produced. This means that changing the CO2 in the atmosphere is not so tragic in its absolute value, but in its rapid increase.
By the fact that we started burning coal, oil, gas after the industrial revolution?
Exactly. If you look at that curve, it’s associated with this period.
When was the first idea born that instead of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, it would be possible to use CO from the atmosphere2 remove or capture it?
It follows directly on the fact that thermal power plants produced soot and sulfur substances. Humanity has learned to remove them in such a way that they do not come out of the chimney today. Only steam and carbon dioxide escape.
AND WHAT2 can be caught today by putting a kind of “trap” on the bottom of the chimney that captures the carbon dioxide and compresses it to a supercritical state, a state where you can’t tell whether it’s a liquid or a gas.
Is this a technology-intensive operation, or can virtually any industrial unit run it?
Not any yet. In Norway, the Mongstad technology center has been built for this purpose, where this technology is developed and tested on an industrial scale. Once their knowledge is spread on a larger scale, the price will also drop and it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. By the way, Czech researchers also have their own projects with Norway.
What percentage of CO2 are we able to capture in this way?
I’d be wary of the 100 number, but the high 90s do.
Does deploying such technology consume a lot of energy? So that in the end more fuel is not invested in cleaning the air than it is able to clean…
It’s an emerging technology, and with one you always need to create some kind of incentive to get things going in the first place. But once it’s figured out where the road leads, then it’s just a question of who will be able to make it cheaper. Just look at the price of solar panels – it has come down a lot. And a similar trajectory is expected for CO capture technologies2.
They are dedicated to capturing CO2 only norwegians or is it a bigger phenomenon?
The United States and Canada are in the lead. China is currently catching up, which is surprising. For them, in addition to cleaning their own air, it is also an effort to produce, offer and, above all, sell technology cheaper than the USA or Norway.
When CO2 we capture it and put it in a supercritical state, so of course it doesn’t “disappear into thin air”, which is what we are trying to prevent. What is the final product of what the carbon dioxide “scrubber” captures?
There are different technologies to do with that final material. There are primarily two industrial uses such as raw materials – ethanol and methanol. There are also a number of other products, but there is not yet such a demand for them that the greenhouse effect can be solved thanks to them. So geological storage in the deep layers of the earth’s crust currently appears to have the greatest potential.
Development of CO2 concentration over the last 800 thousand years
So we take the captured carbon dioxide, supercritical it, and pipe it back into the ground where it stays stored?
It is so. There is such a magic number – a thousand liters of CO gas2 you press on 2.8 liters of supercritical material. In other words, the volume amount that has to be pushed into the ground is much, much smaller. And for that, you don’t need such enormous pressures as, for example, with liquid gas, which is used, for example, to drive cars.
There is a risk that CO will be released from underground storage over time2 back to the surface and continue to contribute to the greenhouse effect?
The key assumption is that it can only be stored where it is airtight. It is best verified where oil and gas deposits were formed. There are assumptions such that CO2 “will not escape”. Of course, these are borderline values, and if someone wants to save money, they can store in less suitable structures. That is why there is a very strict process that the repository must meet in order to be able to store in it.
One of the biggest complaints of people who the process of capturing and storing CO2 they criticize is the fact that captured carbon dioxide through storage in oil fields is used to displace other fossil fuels that will generate more carbon dioxide. How widespread is this practice?
I would rather look for who should bear the costs for the whole process. An economic recipe must be found for how not to go bankrupt and at the same time remove harmful substances. Mining companies are the furthest along in this, having figured out that when they have three to five percent CO in their gas2, so their product has a much lower calorific value, and thus a lower price on the market. So they started capturing CO2 and economically the whole process will pay off for them.
You mentioned Norway several times. What does it have to do with CO storage2 false?
Norwegians realize that within 20, 30 years they will end oil and gas extraction and need a new source of livelihood. One of the projects he is betting on is CO storage2 from all over Europe to those extracted oil deposits. For example, today we are also part of a Norwegian project that investigates the possibilities of transporting captured CO2 to Norway.
We mentioned Norway, USA, Canada, China… How are we doing with CO capture2 in the Czech Republic?
Above all, there are the obligations of the Czech Republic and the European Union regarding the reduction of emissions. And on the scientific side, there is the Czech Geological Service, which has been working on this issue for almost 20 years with similar countries in Europe.
Emission obligations are a topic that, with the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere is closely related. Is there a business around “cleaning the air” through which emitters buy permits to release pollutants into the atmosphere?
Such companies exist and in the future there will certainly be other companies that will make the whole process economically viable. We certainly cannot rely on one magic wand that will solve everything, but we need to have a whole system in which the CO part2 saves, uses the other part.
I’ll use a funny example – CocaCola carbonates its drinks. Fruits and vegetables are packed in CO2, to keep them fresh longer. Lots of similar smaller industrial uses will make the whole carbon capture process worthwhile.
There is also the question of transport, which must be solved in some way. Pulling pipelines is very economically demanding, but thanks to the already mentioned enormous compression, even tankers or large cargo ships can be used. China already operates a few for this purpose. It’s a whole new industry that’s just getting started.