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The chance for coal and oil: how technology saves the usual fuel
Material posted: Publication date: 12-04-2014

It is believed that the energy of the future is necessarily associated with renewable energy sources. But it is possible that the leading position of coal, oil and gas will continue. If modern technological solutions will help to get rid of carbon dioxide.

The intergovernmental panel on climate change in its next report continues to frighten: remains one of the most important environmental problems is the increase in the emissions of greenhouse gases. All fears are justified, but nevertheless there are solutions to this problem, which may become a full-fledged new business.

We are, burning fossil fuels emitted into the atmosphere over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. It would seem that there are so many different innovative solutions, why not visit them and not to give up once and for all from fossil fuels. However, all is not so simple. We admire all sorts of startups associated with the latest information technologies, but often don't see the whole chain of transformations of substances from mine workings to specific high-tech products. To make a sparkling touch, you need to obtain metals, to produce them, and for this to extract other metals. And at each stage need heat and electricity. That's why we burn gas, oil and coal.

Coal as the Foundation

The most inefficient, dirty fuel is coal. And yet 40 per cent of total world electricity generation falls on it. The leader of coal generation is China, where its share exceeds ¾ of total electricity supply. The irony of the business: smoldering coal provides energy modern enterprise, producing with the latest electronics. And coal is essential to steel production, cement manufacturing and many more why.

But not only China uses coal. Experts note that rising coal consumption in Europe, even Germany, which is proud of its solar and wind farms, in 2013 opened more coal-fired power stations than in the last two decades. Coal used Poland, South Africa, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Indonesia... And yet it is China that emits a record amount of carbon dioxide – about 25%, more than any other country.

The Chinese decision

As refuse from the coal in the foreseeable future, China cannot but continue to pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide is bad too, there is now an innovative project called GreenGen. This is one of the world's most advanced attempts to develop technology aimed at carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Basically the idea is not too complicated: consumers can still burn cheap coal, as before, providing high rates of economic growth, but now all carbon dioxide will be pumped into underground storage, where it will be stored for thousands of years.

The main places for the disposal of CO2 in nature

The most common scheme: CO2 capture from the flue gas with the use of technology absorption. The absorbent (i.e. absorbent) is an aqueous solution of monoethanolamine (IEA). IEA remove carbon dioxide from the smoke, and then subjected to regeneration in a special apparatus, releasing "trapped" natural gas, and returns to the absorber. Carbon dioxide can also be sent for storage, sIgA by pumping in pure form or dissolving in water. In the world there are various examples of solutions to this technology issue.

The Norwegian decision

In 1996 the Norwegian state company Statoil have embarked on the world's first industrial project of CCS. The need for it was linked to the characteristics of natural gas produced from the offshore gas field of the Western , the Sleipnir in the North sea. It was the fact that the gas from this field contains the anomalously high admixture of carbonic acid, about 9%, while commercial natural gas to market must not be more than 2.5% carbon dioxide.

Previously, until 1991, no one would pay attention to it – carbon dioxide is separated and released into the atmosphere. But after 1991, the laws changed and the CO2 emissions were subject to fines. Statoil has calculated that the penalties for emissions may be more than $50 million a year. But the complex special equipment to capture and inject carbon dioxide again in the thickness of rocks is worth about $80 million considering the fact that the mine was scheduled to operate for more than 20 years, it was profitable.

Deposit Western Sleipnir became a pioneer in the field of CCS

To capture was used for amine technology. Associated carbon dioxide is pumped into the porous Sandstone reservoir with a capacity of about 250 m, lying at depths greater than 800 m from the surface of the seabed. This formation, according to the calculations, capable of storing 600 billion tonnes of CO2. At this point in the formation is pumped nearly 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, the cost of the process is about $17 per tonne of CO2.

Other alternatives

There are other practical examples of carbon dioxide utilization. In the canadian province of Alberta since 2006, using the technology of injection of carbon dioxide into oil reservoirs to increase oil recovery field Deputy. A double benefit: utilized injected to a depth of over 1000 m carbon dioxide and produces more oil.


CCS technologies are increasingly used in the world. But not always it turns out – white chips – where projects have been closed

In another place the same province geologists have found at a depth of 1300 m coal deposits. At this depth you can get coal is not profitable, when it was discovered that the array of very large quantities of methane (natural gas). The Canadians were pumped into these layers of carbon dioxide, which began to displace on the surface of the methane. If the experiments are successful, then local thermal power plant will pump their exhaust into the ground, get some new fuel for their boilers. But carbon dioxide will remain in the deep layers for a very long time.

Americans high hopes for saturation of natural waters. Within the USA there are a large number of underground levels filled with highly saline waters. These waters are of no practical importance, but these horizons are beautifully isolated from the surface. An example of this solution is the recycling station near the oil fields of Citronelle in Alabama. There the fix is made to a depth of over 3000 m, in the local brines of salt. The project was launched in 2011 and designed for disposal of 150 thousand tons of CO2 per year.

In General it is believed that in underground brines and other non-usable water could be pumped all allocated to our energy carbon dioxide over the next 350 years. The problem is that there are possible side effects.

Side effects good decisions

The idea of CCS is simply superb. And, by the way, it appeared fairly recently, only have to talk about the problem of preservation of the environment. In 1977 the Italian E. Marchetti proposed to inject carbon dioxide at the bottom of the ocean basins. The natural water pressure will maintain the carbon dioxide in liquid form, and the absence of active mixing at great depths will allow to forget about it for thousands of years.

However, against this idea rose marine biologists. In fact, this sentence not only benthic organisms at great depths (which, honestly, in addition to biologists, nobody really cares), but the entire ocean become more acidic negatively affect all ocean life, and it was the Ocean – the main lung of the planet.

However, there are doubts and geologists. It is worth remembering the tragedy at lake Nyos in Cameroon, which occurred on 21 August in 1986. That day the water of this relatively small lake has burlile with the formation of huge waves. Above the water rose the mist that began to spread along the coast and draining down into the valleys. 1746 people and thousands of animals were killed. Even insects did not escape the sad fate. Killed all the carbon dioxide in such concentration is a suffocating gas. It was accumulated in the waters of this volcanic lake, and it was enough of a landslide or a strong surge of wind so that the stability of the system was broken.

How can I be sure that, by keeping carbon dioxide in the deep ocean or in the mountains, we do not incorporate terrible chemical bomb? Enough with the earthquake, which leads to the formation of cracks in the earth's crust, and carbon dioxide will start to escape, say the skeptics. Optimists are sure that you can find calm in tectonic plan the regions for the disposal of carbon dioxide (such as the Russian plain).

Oxygen question

But there is another issue about which almost never speak, but which is of great importance. When CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it becomes food for plants. They eat it, producing oxygen, and build carbon extracted from their cells. This process is called photosynthesis.

By burning 1 kg of coal is associated approximately 2.6 kg of oxygen. But coal needs to burn in the oxygen of redundancy (about 15%), experts say, and therefore we can assume that 1 kg of burned coal will bind a little more than 3 kg of oxygen, respectively, a ton of coal to three tons of oxygen. If proven world coal reserves of approximately 500 billion tons, the whole of the burnt coal can tie 1500 billion tons of oxygen.

However, to worry about the oxygen prematurely. Every year the plants of our planet emit in excess of 100 billion tons. And will allocate it to continue, if they will have food that is carbon dioxide. The circle is closed.

Thus, now formed three energy alternatives. First, the simplest technically – rejection rapid progress and consumption growth, the transition to a planned economy. The second is the development of energy – saving and green energy technology with a reasonable limitation of Hyper-consumption. The third is disposal of carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions, their transformation in controlled stock that might be someday useful to mankind.

The Source: Slon

Tags: assessment , resources , oil , gaz

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