Carbon capture technology, which traps carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal combustion in order to scale down on greenhouse gas emissions, got a nice $67 million investment recently from the U.S. Department of Energy. This sizable investment will be spread over the next three years among 10 chosen projects, with a focus on reducing the energy and efficiency penalties associated with applying currently available carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to existing and new power plants.
These projects will be testing several different CO2 capture technologies, including membranes, solvents, and solid sorbents. A mix of private companies and universities will be getting the funding, with a specific goal of reducing the added costs to electricity at power plants with carbon capture systems to less than 30 percent for a new pulverized coal plant and 10 percent for a new advanced gasification plant. It is the goal of the Obama administration to develop cost effective carbon capture technologies within 10 years – it hopes to have 5 to 10 commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.
The problem with current capture technologies, according to government officials, is that they currently require large amounts of energy for their operation, resulting in decreased efficiency and reduced net power output. It is believed the technologies to be developed will help fix this, especially because they can be retrofitted to existing plants.
“Charting a path toward clean coal is essential to achieving our goals of providing clean energy, creating American jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will also help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in a statement.