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Carbon Capture & Storage Basics

Published on June 5, 2023

Carbon Capture & Storage Basics

7 key things to know about CCS

Carbon capture and storage in complex. SeisWare reviews 7 essential things to know about CCS

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a vital technology in the process of managing emissions.  It offers a promising solution to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industries that heavily rely on fossil fuels. By capturing and storing CO2 underground, CCS has the potential to prevent significant amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

If you’re a geoscientist (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about CCS. If you’re like us, you’ve probably pondered the different (and complex) aspects of the CCS industry to evaluate its effectiveness and consider its role alongside other climate mitigation strategies.

Good news! In this first article in a series of CCS basics, we’ve broken down seven essential things to know about CCS, from capturing technologies to storage methods, monitoring and verification, environmental impacts, cost and deployment, its role in climate change mitigation, and the associated policy and regulation landscape.

Capture Technologies

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are used to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial processes and power generation. There are several different methods to capture CO2 emissions, such as direct air capture, post-combustion capture, pre-combustion capture, oxyfuel combustion, and chemical looping. Capture technology is becoming more efficient every day!

  • Direct air capture is just as it sounds. CO2 is captured from the air using chemical or physical processes.
  • Post-combustion capture is a commonly used technique that involves removing CO2 from flue gases after the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Pre-combustion capture is used in certain industrial processes, where carbon is separated before fuel combustion.
  • Oxyfuel combustion and chemical looping technologies enable CO2 capture during the actual combustion process.

Storage Methods

Once the CO2 is captured it is then transported to suitable storage sites and injected into the geological formations found underground. Depleted oil and gas fields, deep saline aquifers, and un-minable coal seams are the primary sites for storage. These different geological formations provide us with, ideally, permanent storage for CO2 and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere.

Monitoring and Verification

To ensure the safety and effectiveness of CO2 storage, robust monitoring and verification systems are put in place. Monitoring techniques, such as seismic imaging and well monitoring, are used to track the movement and the behavior of the CO2 that is being stored. We use verification measures to help confirm the storage site’s integrity to ensure that the CO2 remains trapped underground and isn’t released.

Environmental Impacts

Even though CCS can significantly reduce CO2 emissions, there are still some potential environmental considerations that come into play. The main concern is leakage from storage sites that could lead to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Stringent monitoring and site selection can minimize this risk.

Additionally, the process of capturing CO2 requires energy, which may come from fossil fuels, creating an indirect carbon footprint. This means that the energy used to capture CO2 may result in additional greenhouse gas emissions. Ideally, the solution to this indirect carbon footprint is to use renewable energy sources to power the capture process.

Cost and Deployment

CCS is currently considered a costly technology compared to other emission reduction methods with respect to capturing, transporting, and storing of CO2. Funding, regulation, and incentives are evolving, which makes CCS increasingly affordable in more places. With advancements in technology and the scaling up of CCS projects, costs are expected to decrease over time. Various countries and organizations are investing in CCS research and development to accelerate its deployment and minimize the cost. One example of this is Carbon Capture Canada – download our whitepaper to learn more.

Role in Emissions Mitigation

CCS can play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by reducing CO2 emissions from industries that are committed to decarbonization. Sectors like oil and gas, power generation, cement production, and steel manufacturing can utilize CCS to achieve significant emission reductions. CCS is often considered a part of the portfolio of technologies needed to meet climate goals, alongside renewable energy, and energy efficiency measures.

Policy and Regulation

Governments around the world are implementing policies and regulations to support CCS deployment. These measures include financial incentives, carbon pricing mechanisms, and regulatory frameworks to encourage the development and commercialization of CCS projects. International agreements recognize the importance of CCS in achieving emission reduction targets.

 

CCS is one way to capture and store carbon dioxide emission. It is a complex topic and requires a comprehensive understanding of its various components such as capturing technologies, storage methods, monitoring and verification systems, environmental considerations, cost and deployment challenges, its role in emissions mitigation, and the supportive policy and regulatory framework.

As we know, there is never a silver bullet (a single simple answer) and CCS is not a complete solution on its own. It should be used in conjunction with other efforts such developing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and adopting sustainable practices to reduce our carbon footprint. By harnessing the potential of CCS and integrating it with other strategies, we can make significant progress in transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.

Stay tuned for more CCS basics on the SeisWare blog! If there is a topic that you would like us to explore, please get in touch with us!

 

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