May 20, 2009 | 18
Capturing the carbon dioxide that wafts up the smokestack after burning coal (or any other fossil fuel) has been identified by everyone from President Obama to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a critical technology to help keep the lights on while combating climate change. And now there has been yet another successful demonstration that the technology to capture that CO2 from flue gas might actually work: chilled ammonia can capture more than 88 percent of the greenhouse gas before it goes up the smokestack.
Alstom Power and We Energies have released preliminary data on their carbon capture pilot project at Pleasant Prairie, Wisc. The pilot plant, set up to siphon the CO2 from a small stream of the total flue gas using chilled ammonia, not only captured most of the CO2, it captured it in a more than 99 percent pure form, according to Robert Hilton, vice president of power technologies and government affairs at Alstom, which is important for any future storage or industrial reuse. "We can [capture] 90 percent [of the CO2] and do it consistently," he notes. "We've done over 90 percent at times."
Mar 6, 2009 | 35
Does the world really need the ability to trap carbon dioxide before it invisibly billows from power plant smokestacks or out car tailpipes and bury it permanently to slow global warming? You bet, argued some environmentalists, academics and corporate executives at a carbon capture and storage (CCS) conference held at Bloomberg headquarters yesterday in New York. Among the reasons: China (the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide) will need it, the technology already exists and if we don't get a handle on ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will reach catastrophic proportions.
"The reason that we believe CCS is a critically important part of the toolbox is there's a huge gap between what can technically do and what we are doing, and part of that is politics," said David Hawkins, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). He said that 30 states either mine coal or burn it for the majority of their electricity and therefore support technology that would allow that to continue even as the nation reduces CO2 emissions.
Nov 4, 2008
It's been a long slog to get to this election day. We all know the campaigns spent millions to get their messages across. But Bob Grant at The Scientist wondered about the environmental cost (log-in required)—specifically how much the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain contributed to global warming. Based on total campaign expenditures—including flying, driving, and printing materials—Grant (with help from consultant Standard Carbon) estimates that the Obama camp emitted nearly 78,000 tons of climate-change inducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and the McCain campaign roughly 59,000 tons of CO2.
Standard Carbon suggests planting 18 square miles of new trees to offset that climate change pollution—the growing trees would theoretically soak up an equivalent amount of CO2—but such carbon offsets don't address the core of the problem: burning fossil fuels.
Oct 23, 2008 | 5
There's no question that carbon when paired with fellow element oxygen can spell trouble. The combo creates carbon dioxide (CO2), the root of climate change, the most destructive environmental woe facing our planet. But carbon is not inherently evil. In fact, it is a building block of life, present in all living creatures. In our daily lives we often see it in its pure form–think diamonds or lead in pencils. And it is a key ingredient in oil (made from hydrocarbons), certain types of surfboards, and even carbohydrates like bread and pasta, which provide energy for humans and animals.
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