Tag Archives: carbon capture

India and Carbon Capture and Storage

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Global warming and how harmful it is, can be narrated by even a kid today. But does every one really understand and take seriously – impacts of the phenomenon on this blue and green earth, post a century from today??  Sadly, we’ll have to bid an unfortunate bye-bye to various crux cities – New York City, Venice, Sydney, Mumbai and counting. It is disheartening, that though we’re aware about a death ditch that lies ahead of us, we are not considering any measures to halt and save our dwelling haven, but are rather running faster towards ‘the end’. To acknowledge the jeopardy and maintain certain standards to subside the rampant threat, is the need of the hour today!

              It isn’t an effect that occurs as dramatically as illustrated in most movies, however yet, the sooner we act the better it is. Who is the culprit? Fossil fuel energy sources are the demons we need to watch out for, as they contribute nasty levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Most of all, coal based power plants emit large quantities of CO2 by burning millions of tons of fossil fuels every year. Deep down from the earth’s crust, is where these fuels arise from and then, they are burnt, and then; we will be burnt very soon because the burning of these fuels in excess to fulfill electricity and other needs, releases the clouds of CO2 into the atmosphere resulting in our very own life threatening-global warming scenario. However, CO2 was originally embedded into the earth’s crust in the form of fossil fuels and didn’t affect the atmosphere. So carbon isn’t really the bad guy here, it’s us. Lets see our flaws and how we can reverse it with CCS: What Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) aims to do is to reduce the global warming phenomenon by sending this carbon back to where it came from – Deep underground.

              CCS works by using proven technologies to capture the carbon dioxide being emitted and storing it in porous rocks deep below the earth’s surface. CCS works in three main stages, capturing and separating the CO2 from the gasses emitted called flue gases, transporting it to a storage location and storing it deep underground or under the ocean. Sounds like some task? Yes, it is, but what’s more important, is that it serves our environment’s matter of concern.

CCS and how?

              The first stage i.e. capturing CO2 can occur at in two forms, before and after the fossil fuel is burned. If done before, the process involves heating the fossil fuel in pure oxygen which causes emission of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is then treated with a catalyst to give carbon dioxide and more hydrogen. The two are then separated. If done after combustion, which in case of almost all power plants in India, it is usually by the use of a special filtering equipment. The advantage is that it allows many old power plants to be retrofitted for CCS. Transportation of the trapped CO2 can be done through pipes, which, by the way is proven technique and is currently used to transport CO2 to over 5000 kms in the United States. CO2 can then be stored underground safely, like natural gas has been stored by earth for centuries.

The abundant CO2 that can be stored in a relatively small area:

              10 trillion tons of carbon dioxide – Now, how many zeroes does that have? This is the extent to which the mother earth can yet save our souls. The earth can store so many tons of carbon dioxide! This would allow storage of 100 years of CO2 emissions from all human activities. In underground storage, also know as geological sequestration, the pressure underneath, causes CO2 to behave more like a liquid than a gas; thus allowing it to seep through porous rocks.

              India is home to a giant population and this majorly confides the poor section, both of which do not have easy access to power and to make things worse, the poor who rely on fossil fuels are helpless on the emissions of CO2. Manufacturing is getting big and so much industrialization and commercialization is taking place – so well, so good for the economic growth! But what about the worse CO2 emission are skyrocketing steeply!?

Does this mean we are doomed?

              No, because despite all these factors India’s CO2 emission is only 1/7th of that of the USA and 1/3rd of that of China. It does however mean that we do have significant time to implement CCS technologies and that we should use this to our advantage. Projects in India take longer than other parts of the world and therefore if we start now we could be the forerunners in controlling our carbon emissions. This will enable our economy to grow even faster as in the global scenario we would never be subject to international sanctions due to the fear of uncontrolled carbon emissions. And what’s better, from the experience gained India could become a net exporter of technology.

The entire planet suffers from global warming and it is likely that in the future one country’s CO2 emissions could pose a threat for everyone else. Therefore, it is sensible if the countries take steps to cut down on the emissions by means of crumbling their industries, using economic sanctions. Currently the USA, UK, Norway and several other European countries have put CCS into place and are working to enhance, improve and expand the technology. It is a great move forward and it is time India followed suit. An estimation talks that 86% of the world’s incremental coal needs will come from India and China by the year 2030. We are bound to grow and so will our need for power. If we are able to implement CCS alongside our growing coals power needs, we would certainly be able to create a more sustained environment which would help us sustain our growth. For this to happen, we would need a change in policy. A boost in the practical execution of such a thought, which will do miracles for environment and mankind welfare. The probable reason that the policy change hasn’t occurred already is that CCS can be expensive as it can reduce the power output of a plant by up to 15%.  

In a country starved for power, this could mean millions of people having to wait for energy security until enough power plants are up and running. Keeping this into account it is understandable why our policy makers do not see CCS as the need of the hour.  However, it is imperative that we are able to think ahead and work towards the bigger picture in the long run. If all the new power plants constructed have CCS technology fitted on them, we need not have the looming fear of controlling CO2 emissions. We can look forward to a green and healthier India which can continue to grow without hesitation of contributing to a degraded climate change.

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Carbon Capture and Storage, the only solution to climate change?

Climate change is being widely recognized as the major environmental problem facing the globe. Global warming has become perhaps the most complicated issue for world leaders today. Large-scale burning of coal and fossil fuels worldwide has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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That is why carbon capture and storage has been accepted as a serious effort and probably the only solution to combat climate change at the Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT-11) Conference hosted by the International Energy Agency in Kyoto last week. The GHGT conference has established itself as the premier international platform for the presentation of cutting edge research and the latest developments in CO2 capture and storage technologies. It is a platform for individuals, industry representatives and researchers from Asia, Europe and Australia, USA to network with one another.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing waste COfrom large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it to an underground geological formation. The aim is to prevent the release of large quantities of COinto the atmosphere. It is a potential means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming.  Carbon capture and storage was very much a novel concept with limited research but there has been a significant technological development in recent years.

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The conference highlighted the fact that “CCS is Ready to Move Forward”. CCS is now at the phase where pilot projects operate around the world, which will be followed by commercial deployment.  Regardless, the world seems to be closing down more CCS plants than it opens. Member discussions at the conference approved CCS as a potential technology, but developments are still needed in the areas of CO2 capture, transportation, storage and the integration of these components, both in terms of reliability and efficiency.  Several CO2 trapping mechanisms such as post combustion, oxy-fuel combustion, pre combustion, chemical looping, the costs and impacts of these technologies were discussed. Focus was also drawn on storage techniques, public-private partnerships, management of technologies, techniques, risk assessment, CO2 utilisation, transport networks and safety measures. Panel members concluded that legal and regulatory frameworks, breakthroughs in areas of funding and communication need to be considered by various stakeholders including industrialists, researchers, government bodies, institutes and the public. CCS techniques, such as Enhanced Oil Recovery, have been used for decades, but only recently has it been viewed as a viable means of reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from power plants.

Governments around the world need to show more commitment towards framing standards, rules and regulations for CCS. CCS needs to be employed on a much larger scale, then only will it be able to make that level of impact its potential suggests.

The organizers of the GHGT Conference consisted of a mix of representatives from the hosts; in the case of GHGT-11, The Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth and the International Energy Agency. Researchers and industry experts world over attended the Conference.

Prateek Bumb, Director of Carbon Clean Solutions Ltd, was one of the few Indians present there. The conference was chaired by renowned personalities such as Dr Kelly Thamimuthu, Chair of IEAGHG, Mr John Gale, General Manager, IEAGHG and Mr Tim Dixon, Manager, CCS & Regulatory Affairs, IEAGHG. Emminent speakers such as Professor Yoichi Kaya, President, RITE, Mr Koichi Akaishi, METI, Mr Atsutoshi Nidhida, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba, Mr Brad Page, CEO, Global CCS Institute, Dr Jay Braisch, Senior Advisor, Office of Fossil Fuel Energy USDOE,  Mr Juho Lipponen, Head of CCS Unit, IEA, Dr Francis O’Sullivan Executive Director , Energy Sustainability Challenge Programme, MIT, Henk Reimink, Executive Director, Energy Sustainability Challenge Programme, World Steel Association, Chris Hendriks, Managing  Consultant, Ecofys and Keigo Akimoto, Chief Researcher and Group Leader of the Systems Analysis Group, RITE addressed the conference.

The next GHGT Conference is scheduled to be held at The University of Texas, Austin in USASeveral U.S. and International demonstrations of CCS are expected to be showcased at GHGT-12.  

The Roots of our existence

The Summers in IIT Kharagpur is always a great time for everyone. Majority of the students go home on a long vacation and the rest go for internships in companies and universities in India and abroad.

In early August of 2008, I was back in college after interning at the University of Bern, Switzerland and i was introduced to Prateek who also returned from his internship in Italy. During our casual conversion, I asked him “What did you do?” to which he replied “I work on carbon capture systems”. It was this conversation that set the tone for the incorporation of Carbon Clean Solutions. Three years later we are present in three major industrial markets across the world and are innovation leaders for carbon (CO2) capture technology.

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CCS promoter’s with Dr. William F Milar – Stanford Business School

We spoke about carbon capture, which essentially is a process of capturing/recovering carbon dioxide (CO2) from large scale emitters like power and industrial plants. My next question was “Who’s doing it in India?”, a friend and soon to be business partner Prateek replied “No one”.

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Winners at PAN IIT Business Plan Conclave Award, with TATA CEOs

Neither of us spoke about this for few days until we learnt about “IDEAZ’08”, IIT Bombay’ business idea competition. We had an instinctive feeling that we could probably do better in this because of our passion, so we decided to apply. Surprisingly enough our idea to start carbon capture consulting did do better that we thought giving us right opportunity and platform. In next three months we won two major business plan competitions at IIT Kharagpur and PAN IIT Business Plan Conclave. Things were pretty serious by then, an idea that started from dorm room discussion was converted into a full fledged business plan and there were people ready to support us.

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Aniruddha, Prof. Martin Haemmig and Prateek

At the PAN IIT  conference we met Prof. Martin Haemmig, who raised the first ever “BUT” on our business plan. A genius and well known in global start-up community, he was an Prof. at Stanford University and had lectured at some of the very high profile entrepreneurship events across the globe.

The next day was well spent getting coached on even thinking of a company and the intricacies in building/running an organisation. To be brutally honest, I realised that all the good PR and winning b-plans will not help. Its like an old quote from Albert Einstein ” If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.” We spent the next two months on talking to customer and experts, understanding the challenges and problems with existing technology.

Early February, we got a letter from the prestigious Cleantech forum inviting both of us to San Francisco for attending 2009 year’s summit, a sea of entrepreneurs, VCs, researchers and what’s best all top notch..On the very first day we visited Stanford University, I was completely awed and overwhelmed by the campus beauty. It was an amazing experience to meet, talk and listen to the best researchers from Stanford, of whom we had read about in newspapers.

Post conference, we were anxiously waiting for, the dreamland of entrepreneur “The Silicon Valley”, a metonym of high-tech sector. Driving on the way from Paolo Alto to Sandhill road you cannot miss the giant headquarters of companies like Google, Adobe, Sun, Yahoo, eBay, HP, Intel and many more. Your sheer presence in the area fills you with a thrill and quest for something new and innovative to change the world. In the afternoon thanks for Prof. Martin, we got the chance to meet Mr. Vinod Khosla [co-founder Sun Microsystems], one of the most admired VC in the Valley.

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                    Carbon Clean Solutions promoter’s with Mr. N. R Narayan Murthy

Trip to Silicon Valley was an eye opener, feedbacks from some of the largest power/energy companies and researchers sent us back to drawing board in search of technology product. This was a pivot moment for Carbon Clean Solutions as we were about to change the whole business model from consulting to innovating & offering technology. Following sleepless nights for a few months and hard work complemented by college studies it took us eight months to conceptualise an efficient technology product that would be highly competitive in the market

Carbon Clean Solutions was incorporated on the 12th of October in 2009