Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Journal #14: Carbon Capture and Storage

I couldn't think of a lot to write about after today's class on LCA end-of-life implications, so I went back to the Steinbrenner Institute faculty presentations and took a look at Prof. Edward Rubin's presentation on CO2 emissions. The powerpoint focuses first on the generation of CO2 as it is by far the greatest concentration of any of the greenhouse gases emitted each year. He shows that, as a nation, we are poised to increase the use of CO2 34% by 2030 as coal burning continues to increase as an energy provider.

He shows that vehicles and power plants are the bulk of the products and services generating CO2, and presents some alternatives in reducing emissions: alternative energy, housing changes, reshaping infrastructure... all of which would require massive changes to produce a significant change taking a long time.

The optimal solution, Rubin argues, is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a method of capturing CO2 used in power plants and returning the emissions to deep underground areas where carbon has been depleted (such as oil wells that have been tapped). This saves significantly on energy along with reducing emissions from the largest sector of CO2 generation.

Immediately I was interested in comparing the effect of CO2 emissions (from coal burning) to some other form of energy generation, such as nuclear power. Would the complete life cycle analysis of both energy generations be comparable? Or would CO2 stand out as much more hazardous to our environment? Since the presentation is limited to the environmental effects of CO2 emissions, I think that this type of LCA would also be limited in the same way.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

How CO2 became the dominant factor of environmental impact is an interesting history to examine (when each of us has time!). We KNOW that nuclear waste is harmful, yet we keep it stored in what is considered "safe" systems while we figure out what to do with it. CSS is effectively the same. why should one be a bigger concern than the other?