Posts Tagged carbon sequestration

Carbon Capture With Algae

Posted by on Friday, 23 July, 2010

Algae already have a vital role in the ecosystem since they can produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in the air through photosynthesis. Algae at a power plant provide the flexibility to capture carbon at the source and reduce the carbon emissions before these emissions reach the atmosphere. As with other plant materials, algae can also be dried or converted into methane to store fuel for later usage.

Researchers at Indiana University are using algae to capture carbon emissions from a power plant on the campus. According to the university, the power plant uses coal, and the more expensive natural gas when its budget allows. Using algae reduces the impact of the fossil fuel usage, although completely capturing all of the carbon from a standard coal plant would require more than a hundred acres of algae ponds. Obviously this is not feasible in many locations, although a power plant at a university in a rural location might be able to successfully set up this type of system.

The University of Illinois is also working on demonstration projects to use algae for carbon capture. According to the University of Illinois, the main advantage of algae is their rapid growth, which requires them to absorb carbon much faster than other plants. Trees and bushes can not match an algal reproduction rate that can double the size of a clump of algae in four hours. The flue gas from the coal plant does first have to be scrubbed of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide which can kill algae, and reduced in temperature to a level that the algae can handle.

Projects in Southern California provide a demonstration of carbon sequestration using algae. A joint project from several research institutions in San Diego, including UCSD, SDSU, and associated research labs, are setting up carbon capture projects in the deserts of Imperial Valley. The algae ponds will require a large amount of space, and the coastal region of San Diego is densely populated and most nearby cities have high land values, but some nearby desert areas are nearly empty because of the extreme heat. Some of the desert regions in this area are part of national parks or military facilities, so the approval process for setting up algae ponds may not always move quickly.

Carbon Tax: Sequestration and Tertiary Extraction

Posted by on Sunday, 4 April, 2010

To deal with climate change, it is necessary to trap carbon produced in manufacturing. Clean energy production is not ramping up quickly enough to reduce the carbon present in the atmosphere. So the IRS has created carbon sequestration credits to provide a tax break for manufacturers who trap carbon, and the Treasury proposed removing tax benefits for oil and gas production.

According to the IRS, it is possible to gain a tax credit for carbon sequestration. The credit is twice as high, twenty dollars a metric ton, if the carbon is not used to extract natural gas or oil once captured. A manufacturer can still receive ten dollars per metric ton if the carbon is used to extract petroleum fuels. This suggests that the carbon sequestration credit could be used to support additional petroleum exploration that releases carbon into the atmosphere, especially if the oil company offers more than the difference of ten dollars a metric ton for the carbon dioxide so it can be used in tertiary extraction.

Injecting the carbon dioxide into an oil field releases oil or gas that is difficult to extract through other means, so it is called a tertiary injectant as it is injected after other methods are used. According to the Treasury Green Book, the tertiary injection deduction may be repealed in 2011. A related policy, the enhanced oil recovery credit, is also suggested for repeal. This is part of energy legislation that removes other tax incentives for the oil and gas industry, such as tax deductions for drilling in marginal wells, in addition to changing how depletion and oil well drilling costs are reported. Coal extraction deductions for US manufacturing are also removed in this proposal. The overall effect of the energy legislation removes subsidies to natural gas and oil companies, so that their products are less cost competitive with renewable energy. This is an alternative to cap and trade, as it changes tax rules rather than creating a carbon futures exchange.