What is the environmental benefit from carbon sequestration?

factory-310848_640Carbon sequestration can be one of the many ways to reduce greenhouse emissions and prevent further contamination of the atmosphere. Numerous studies have shown that the amount of CO2 produced by power plants, cars and houses is more than the environment can absorb. Carbon sequestration can offer a possible solution to this problem. Let’s see what the scientific data suggests.

More than 40% of the CO2 emissions in the USA come from power plants. Through carbon sequestration power plants can keep producing the same amount of electricity while greenhouse emissions can be reduced by up to 80% – 90%. Applied to a 500MW power plant, which produces almost 3 million tons of CO2 per year, the amount of greenhouse gases avoided through carbon sequestration is equivalent to planting 62 million trees or saving electricity from 300, 000 homes. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 1,800 to 20,000 billion metric tons of CO2 can be effectively stored underground in USA.

What is your opinion on carbon sequestration? Let me know in the comments below.

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Where do you store CO2 in Carbon Sequestration?

2108987446_0cc86b89ec_zAnother important question is where to store the amounts of CO2 during the process of carbon sequestration. Scientists believe that the most suitable places are old gas and oil fields. Storing CO2 in these places has the additional economic advantage of making it easier to access the remaining oil reservoirs. By injecting carbon dioxide underground, oil is pushed from the pores of rock to wells where it can be easily drained.

However, depleted oil and gas fields are not so many and cannot cover the amount of CO2 that needs to be sequestrated. This is why many geologists argue that the best places to store CO2 are sedimentary rocks that contain salty water (brine). The best sedimentary formations are those located at a depth of 800 meters or more. These layers are far below the resources of drinking water and are suitable for storing CO2.

While sedimentary rocks are almost everywhere and are easy to access, concern remains of whether these formations are safe enough. Small raptures of the overlying rock may allow for CO2 to reach the upper layers of the ground causing pollution. These concerns lead scientists to think that probably the best places for carbon sequestration are rocks underneath the oceans. High pressure from the water would keep CO2 safe preventing it from being released into the sea. This method is more expensive but it is more secure. Also for power plants that are located near the sea, storing CO2 under the ocean can be a practical and economic solution.

Another way for carbon sequestration is to direct CO2 directly to the oceans. Though the environmental consequences of this method are questionable, it is a process that resembles natural methods of carbon sequestration that occurred in the past. In older geological times when carbon dioxide increased to high levels, the increased concentrations went into the ocean formed limestone. In similar ways engineers may direct carbon dioxide into the ocean to create natural rock formations. The validity and ecological soundness of this method of course remains to be proved

There are many methods to achieve carbon sequestration and as technology progresses there will be even more. But let’s keep in mind that carbon sequestration is only one way to reduce greenhouse emissions. Combined efforts on many other promising fields may be needed in order to reduce pollution and achieve sustainable development.

What is your opinion on carbon sequestration as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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How do you capture CO2 in Carbon Sequestration?

352250460_ee2f9e5565_mThere are two main methods for capturing CO2: absorption towers and pure oxygen combustion. In power plants carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere through smokestacks. These smokestacks can be replaced with absorption towers. Absorption towers are big chimneys that have specific chemicals. These chemicals absorb CO2 before it is released to the atmosphere and in this way prevent pollution.

Usually there are two towers. The first tower contains the chemicals that separate carbon dioxide from the byproducts of combustion (nitrogen and water vapor). When CO2 passes through this tower it is separated from the other gases and it is directed to the second tower. The second tower segregates CO2 from the absorbing chemicals and makes it available to be stored underground. The remaining chemicals are returned to the first tower for further use.

An alternative process to this is pure oxygen combustion. Pure oxygen combustion constitutes in burning fossil fuel into an environment of pure oxygen rather than air. That makes separating and sequestrating CO2 easier because the exhaust of the combustion constitutes only of water vapor and CO2 but not nitrogen. By changing the combustion process at the very beginning carbon sequestration becomes more effective and economical. After this process, water vapor is liquefied and CO2 becomes available for storage.

What is your opinion on carbon sequestration as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Photo by flickr.com / Senor Codo

What is Carbon Sequestration?

Carbon sequestration is a way to capture carbon dioxide and store it in a safe way in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a process that involves three steps: capturing CO2 from power plants and factories, compressing and transferring CO2 and injecting it deep underground the earth.

CO2 is captured during combustion before it is released to the atmosphere. Once captured it is transferred through pipelines, trains, trucks or ships and stored underground in fields . Geological formations which are suitable for carbon sequestration include depleted oil and gas fields, coal and saline formations.

After being transferred to these fields CO2 is stored several meters underground in solid but porous rock. Over this rock there are one or more layers of cap rock that insulate properly CO2 and don’t let it escape. These fields are carefully monitored in order to ensure that CO2 stays underground and that there are no leaks to the surface that could cause pollution.

What is your opinion on carbon sequestration as a way to reduce greenhouse emissions? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Photo by geograph.ie / Albert Bridge

What you can do about the greenhouse effect ? (part 2)

Our everyday decisions may seem unimportant but collectively can have a huge impact on the environment. Reducing greenhouse gases does not mean that you have to radically change your every day life. It just means that you have to be informed about your impact on the planet and alter some of your everyday choices to more ecofriendly alternatives. Let’s take a look at some more of these practical solutions:

  • What kind of light bulbs do you use? New LED lamps can be as bright as the traditional ones while saving up to 85% electricity. They can be a bit more expensive but in the long run the pay off their price. Try using new technology light bulbs in all the rooms of your house and of course don’t forget to switch them off once you exit the room. Also try to take advantage of the day light as much as possible.
  • Do you wash your clothes? Of course you do. Washing your clothes in cold water or water that is heated up to 30̊ will allow you to save lots of energy. Today’s washing powders are really effective and can do their work even in low temperatures. So do yourself a favor and wash your clothes in cooler water.
  • How many products do you buy? The more products you buy the more energy you use. When industries make products they use water, heat, oil, carbon and other kinds of natural resources. The more products are produced in this way the more fossil fuel is burnt. This means more greenhouse emissions and more pollution for the environment. If you reduce, reuse and recycle you make the planet a great favor.
  • Does your government know? Politicians, business leaders and policy makers need to know that there are people out there who really care about the environment. Global warming is an important issue and only if we show that we care, things can change. Use your power as a voter to put pressure on your local leaders so that they follow policies that are eco friendly.
  • Does your neighbor know? The more people are informed about climate change the better. Research suggests that if all Americans reduced their greenhouse emissions up to 20%, 200 coal plants could be completely shut down. This could have a huge impact on the environment and help us fight climate change. Spread the word and let people know how much you care about environmental issues. You may also inspire other people to follow your example.

What do you think you can do about the greenhouse effect? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by flickr.com  /  Gerald Simmons

What you can do about the greenhouse effect? (part 1)

Photo by www.pixabay.comWe all acknowledge how important it is to protect the environment but how many of us actually do anything in our everyday lives to reduce pollution? In spite of what many people think, there are quite a few practical issues we can all address to help the environment and at the same time save quite a lot of money. We just need to be informed and aware of our every day choices that affect the environment. Let’s have a look at some ideas:

  • What car are you driving? When you buy a car, look for a model that is ecofriendly. Each gallon of gas you use, releases in the atmosphere 25 pounds of greenhouse gases. Buying a car that provides fuel economy means not only that you take care of the environment but that you also save a lot of money.
  • Is your house well insulated? Air leaks in your house can lead to up to 15% -25% of heat loss during winter time. Making your doors and windows air tight means spending less money on central heating. At the same time you are burning less energy to keep your house warm.
  • Do you use a thermostat? A thermostat lets you know the exact temperature in each room and how much time you actually need to heat up or cool down the place. In this way you can plan ahead when to turn on and turn off the heating.
  • Do you use power strips? Power strips (or power boards) allow you to connect many different plugs in one socket and turn them all off at once. This reduces the “phantom loads” and saves an amazing amount from your electric bill. What is the point of leaving your DVD player or hi- fi on if you don’t watch a movie or listen to music? Using power strips or just unplugging the devices can really have a positive impact on the environment.
  • What about your refrigerator and air conditioner? By upgrading the refrigerator and air conditioner often you make sure to have the most energy efficient devices. Whenever you buy any of these appliances, look at the Energy Star label which tells you if they are of the newest technology. These models may be a bit more expensive initially but after some time pay off the extra cost.

These and numerous other solutions can help us reduce the environmental impact of our everyday activities and promote a more sustainable way of living. All that it takes is some self – awareness and the willingness to change a few of our habits that are so detrimental to nature.

What do you think you can do about the greenhouse effect? Let me know in the comments below.

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Which are the possible solutions for the greenhouse effect?

Stop-Global-warming_spelled_by_small_penguinsThe effects of global warming are evident in our everyday lives. More and more people are affected by the adverse environmental conditions created by this phenomenon. However, there is much confusion on what we must actually do in order to face this problem. Social, political and economic reasons intertwine and make solving this issue quite difficult.

Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases today, the earth would still heat up at least one degree Fahrenheit. But the decisions we make from now on can have a dramatic impact on the temperature rise in the future. Depending on our actions the earth’s temperature can rise from 2.5 degrees to 10 degrees in the following years.

A commonly accepted goal is to stabilize the greenhouse gases at 550 parts per million (ppm). This is the threshold before which the most damaging effects of global warming could be avoided. Current concentrations are at about 380 ppm and rising. This means that we have to act fast if we want to prevent mass global warming.

Many countries are trying really hard to cut on their greenhouse emissions but there is still much to be done. A widespread approach proposed by the researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow from Princeton University is called “stabilization wedges”. This approach suggests that we could try to reduce the greenhouse gases by doing small changes in different sectors rather than focusing on making major changes in one single sector. They propose seven wedges that can be used to reduce greenhouse emissions.

These wedges include working on energy efficiency, improving vehicle fuel economy, investing in solar and wind power, and producing energy from hydrogen, biofuels and natural gas. Another possible solution is “carbon sequestration”, which involves the capturing and storing of CO2 underground so that it doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.

As well as reducing the greenhouse emissions we can also increase their absorption. Plants and trees absorb CO2 naturally as they grow during the process of photosynthesis. In this way by planting more trees and reducing deforestation we can have an additional way for fighting climate change.

None of these solutions is perfect and they all have their drawbacks. Each country has to make its own decisions about how to protect the environment while at the same time ensuring a high quality of living. The good news is that there are applicable solutions for reducing the impact of global warming. If we all work close, we can ensure a viable future for the planet.

Which do you think are the possible solutions for the greenhouse effect? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Frits Ahlefeldt