DOE Opens New Carbon-Capture Test Facility

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"Current C02 capture technologies cost too much for reduction apps."

GreenAnswers, Ashley Featherman

C02 capture test facilityIn efforts to accelerate the development of commercially viable carbon-capture and -storage methods, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled a new testing facility last week at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) in Gaston, Alabama.

The Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Center (PC4), part of the larger NCCC established by the DOE in 2009, was commissioned to test and evaluate emerging carbon capture technologies for more cost-effective and energy efficient solutions.

Although employed by the oil and gas (O&G) industries for years as a means of increasing O&G recovery rates, carbon-capture technologies have only recently been explored on a larger scale for environmental purposes.

The current goal of carbon-capture and -storage technology is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels, primarily by power plants. In doing so, scientists hope to curb the emission levels of this greenhouse gas significantly enough to mitigate the effects of global warming.

If enough carbon dioxide emitted from the combustion process can be captured and safely stored, scientists believe humans can lower atmospheric levels of CO2.

Existing carbon-capture technologies, however, are too expensive and energy intensive to commercially implement.

"The cost of CO2 capture using current technology. . .is on the order of $150 per ton of carbon—much too high for carbon emissions-reduction applications," according to the DOE.

Further, a cost analysis by SFA Pacific, Inc. showed that the implementation of current CO2 capture methods to an electricity generation process would cause a price increase of 2.5 cents to an average rate of 4 cents/kWh.

In order to develop an economically feasible solution, companies at the testing facilities at the Gaston plant are working to advance post-combustion carbon capture methods.

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