Salem Esber, energy markets expert at PA Consulting, discusses CO₂ capture systems.
The article notes that the carbon capture firm Carbon Clean has launched an off-the-shelf CO₂ capture system that it says can capture the greenhouse gas for $30 or less per metric ton. The company is one of several betting that the future of carbon capture will include small, modular systems in addition to the large custom ones in operation today.
The new system, CycloneCC, captures carbon with a specialized amine-based solvent in a rotating packed-bed reactor. Amine-based solvents are the most widely deployed chemistry for carbon capture today. In such systems, gas streams containing CO₂ are pumped through a contact chamber, where the CO₂ dissolves and reacts with the solvent. In a separate chamber, heat and vacuum pull the now-concentrated CO₂ back out of the solvent. The solvent is then cooled and cycled back into the contact chamber.
The rotating packed-bed setup maximizes contact between the solvent and the CO₂-laden gas stream, allowing the equipment to be one-tenth the size of the dripping solvent towers used in conventional amine-solvent carbon capture, the firm says. In addition to the smaller footprint, Carbon Clean says its system will cost half as much to buy and run as custom-built tower-based systems do.
Carbon Clean is pursuing a different part of the market than many other carbon capture technology providers. Its small, modular system is suited to industrial sites such as chemical plants that have several smaller emissions plumes, rather than to facilities like power plants with a few large pipes.
The units are currently made in India, but Sharma says he wants to build a large factory in the US. He says the addressable market for the technology is around $200 billion.
But you still need to do something with the CO₂ once you’ve captured it, Salem emphasizes, and that can add a lot to the cost of carbon capture. Several companies are working on ways to use captured CO₂ as feedstock for chemicals and fuels. Emitters in some areas can connect to a growing network of CO₂ pipelines that send the gas underground for sequestration or use it to extract fossil fuels from depleted oil and gas wells.
Salem said: “Storage is not off-the-shelf. It may be not be possible in certain areas; it may be cheap and very available in other areas.”
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