Every year about 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide is released around the world, with almost half that amount coming from coal. In the U.S., coal provides almost half our electricity, making it tough to simply stop burning it. But what if we could capture carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of power plants?
energyNOW! correspondent Dan Goldstein explored how innovative carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technologies could keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and help prevent the climate from changing.
“The same types of materials that are used in shampoo and conditioners were materials that we thought we could use in this particular instance to capture carbon,” said Bob Perry, a chemist with General Electric. “With the CO2 we’ve captured, we now have it in a confined space and can move that toward someplace for storage, for sequestration.”
CCS may be key to reducing carbon emissions, but installing it on America’s coal-fired power plants won’t be cheap. “The consumer is going to see an increase in the cost of electricity of 5 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour,” said Gary Rochelle, a chemical engineer at the University of Texas in Austin who has developed a technology to raise carbon dioxide out of power plant smokestack emissions. “That’s a 50 to 100 percent increase in what they’ll be paying for electricity.”