After 16 attempts, a cheaper method for carbon capture at work in India
Indian scientists have found a way to capture carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and use it to make useful products
By Rina Chandran
MUMBAI, Feb 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As students at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur in eastern India, Aniruddha Sharma and Prateek Bumb had one obsession: finding a cheaper, more efficient way to capture carbon emissions to combat climate change.
They began working on the problem in 2009, while still at university. The eureka moment came after numerous trials and errors that required re-starting the process 16 times.
With no help from the Indian government, Sharma and Bumb tapped private investors. They also won prize money of 3.6 million pounds ($4.5 million) in a UK competition, giving them access to scientists and academics in the field.
“Carbon capture technology may have the single biggest impact on emissions reduction,” said Sharma, co-founder of Carbon Clean Solutions (CCS), now based in London.
“But for it to be widely used, it’s very important that the technology be cost-effective,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
India is the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, it has committed to ensuring at least 40 percent of its electricity is generated from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
However, India – and other nations – also are looking for ways to reduce climate-changing emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Capturing carbon dioxide produced by power plants is one way to cut those emissions. But while most previous technologies have focused on capturing the emissions and pumping them below ground, CCS’s technique is a capture-and-utilise one.
It uses a patented molecule that captures carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and uses it to make other useful products like baking soda.
The technology can be retrofitted onto existing plants, and is cheaper and more efficient than existing methods, Sharma said.
Worldwide, technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground has struggled to find traction.
The UK scrapped plans to spend up to 1 billion pounds to commercialise the technology just days before the Paris climate meeting in 2015.
Nevertheless, countries and companies are still keen.
BHP Billiton last year gave $7.4 million to China’s Peking University to develop carbon capture technology.
India offers no subsidies for carbon capture and instead focuses on increasing its renewables capacity to cut emissions.
“To encourage innovations like this, we would need more state backing, just as we have seen in the renewables space,” said Aruna Kumarankandath at the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi.
“These technologies are hard to develop and scale.”
There is clearly a market: while Sharma and Bumb’s Carbon Clean Solutions has found takers in Europe, its biggest vote of confidence has come from India.
Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals & Fertilizers has used the technology at its plant in southern Tamil Nadu state since October.
At the plant, carbon dioxide is captured from a coal-fired boiler and converted into soda ash, which is used in glass manufacturing, sweeteners and detergents.
The process is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, a world first, according to Sharma.
The cost of capture is about $30 per ton – about half the cost of other technologies in the market, he said.
“The next wave of innovation will reduce the cost further, perhaps even by half, to the point where it’s almost equivalent to or less than the emissions tax,” he said.
“Then it would make more sense to capture the carbon than to emit it,” he said.
($1 = 0.7991 pounds) (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran. Editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)
Carbon Clean Solutions
|Carbon Clean Solutions’ APBS technology makes it practically possible to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue gases of power plants and industrial utilities in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. Patented carbon capture technology developed by Carbon Clean Solutions, involves capturing carbon dioxide using proprietary regenerable solvent combined with a unique heat coupling method. The flue gas discharged from the chimney is extracted from the existing stack and fed to the CCS unit through a flue gas duct. After cleaning the gas, it is passed through an absorber for capturing CO2. The CO2 thus recovered can be used as a raw material for downstream industries.
Patented solvent and process configuration increases the efficiency of carbon capture and reduces the amount of energy required, thus, making CCS technology cost effective for power plants and industrial utilities. Following are the four major issues that surround CO2capture technology solutions existing today:
CO2 capture technology developed by Carbon Clean Solutions consists of advanced solvent, novel process equipments and unique heat integration technique to address the challenges of high energy penalty and high solvent loss. Our team of experienced engineers constantly perform extensive testing to establish & prove the results on bench scale pilot. Our proven technology and the cost-effective CO2 capture process guarantees more than 90% food grade CO2 capture. Significantly less energy penalty, minimal solvent loss and degradation has been achieved at the lab & pilot scale testing during multiple runs. Due to the non-corrosive nature of the solvents, the capital expenditure can be brought down significantly by changing the material of construction, leading to huge cost saving on equipments. CO2 thus captured with our technology, is ready for sequestration and can be transported to suitable storage locations using pipelines.