Carbon Storage Technology

Program Overview

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NETL Carbon Storage Program

Fossil fuels are considered the most dependable, cost-effective energy source in the world. The availability of these fuels to provide clean, affordable energy is essential for domestic and global prosperity and security well into the 21st century. However, a balance is needed between energy security and concerns over the impacts of concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere – particularly carbon dioxide (CO2).

NETL's Carbon Storage Program is developing a technology portfolio of safe, cost-effective, commercial-scale CO2 capture, storage, and mitigation technologies that will be available for commercial deployment beginning in 2020. NETL's primary Carbon Storage research and development (R&D) objectives are: (1) lowering the cost and energy penalty associated with CO2 capture from large stationary sources; and (2) improving the understanding of factors affecting CO2 storage permanence, capacity, and safety in geologic formations and terrestrial ecosystems. Once these objectives are met, new and existing power plants and fuel processing facilities around the world have the potential to be retrofitted with CO2 capture technologies.

NETL's Carbon Storage Program received $70 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). These funds are being used for (1) Geologic Storage Site Characterization projects ($50M), and (2) to provide training opportunities through R&D at universities and establish regional training centers with the goal of creating a qualified carbon storage workforce in the United States ($20M). These efforts complimented the existing goals for the program. Sixty projects were awarded with the Recovery Act funds. The details about individual projects are provided through the contents of the Storage Program's web pages within the Core R&D and Infrastructure components of the program.

The Carbon Storage Program Overview web page provides detailed information about the program's structure, as well as links to the web pages that summarize the program's key elements. 

Carbon Sequestration Collage

NETL's Carbon Storage Program is helping to develop technologies to capture, separate, and store CO2 in order to reduce GHG emissions without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth. These CCS technologies encompass the entire life-cycle process for controlling CO2 emissions from large-scale stationary sources, such as coal-based power plants. By cost-effectively capturing CO2 before it is emitted to the atmosphere and then permanently storing it, coal can continue to be used without restricting economic growth while still reducing CO2 emissions. CCS includes four primary steps: capture, compression, transport, and storage. Integrated, cost-effective, and efficient CCS technologies will need to be developed and demonstrated at full-scale prior to their availability for widespread commercial deployment.

To accomplish widespread deployment, four Carbon Storage Program goals have been established: (1) develop technologies that can separate, capture, and transport 90% of CO2 generated for geologic storage using either direct or indirect systems that result in a less than 10 percent increase in cost of energy by 2015; (2) develop technologies that will support industries' ability to predict CO2 storage capacity in geologic formations to within ±30 percent by 2015; (3) develop technologies to demonstrate that 99 percent of injected CO2 remains in the injection zones by 2015; and (4) complete a series of Best Practices Manuals (BPMs) that serve as the basis for the design and implementation of commercial CCS projects by 2020.

      CO2 injection testing in the Blan No. 1 well, Hancock County, Kentucky (Courtesy of MGSC)
      CO2 Injection testing in the Blan No. 1 well, Hancock County, Kentucky 
    (Courtesy of MGSC)
    The separation and capture of CO2 from power plant flue gas and other CO2 stationary sources is costly and energy intensive, accounting for the majority of the cost of safe, long-term storage. However, analysis shows the potential for cost reductions of 30-45 percent for CO2 capture. Pre-combustion technologies, in particular, that are being developed are expected to be capable of capturing more than 90 percent of flue gas CO2.

    Geologic CO2 storage involves transporting the CO2 that has been captured from power plants and other stationary sources, including industrial sources, and safely storing it in deep, underground geologic formations. Geologic formations span across 11 different formation classes. These formations may contain oil and natural gas, coal seams, and saline waters. Future storage options under investigation include basalt formations and shale basins. Terrestrial carbon storage, which involves CO2 uptake by soils and plants both on land and in aquatic environments like wetlands and tidal marshes, provides an opportunity for low-cost atmospheric CO2 reductions and potentially offers additional benefits such as habitat and/or water quality improvements.

    NETL's Storage Program Structure
    The Carbon Storage Program involves three key elements for technology development: Core R&D, Infrastructure, and Global Collaborations. The integration of these elements will address technological and marketplace challenges. Refer to the Carbon Storage Program Overview webpage for more information related to the Carbon Storage Program structure, as well as to access components under each key element.

    CCS and other clean coal technologies being developed at NETL can play a critical role in mitigating CO2 emissions while supporting energy security in the United States. DOE's Carbon Storage Program has positioned the United States on a path toward ensuring that the enabling technologies will be available to affect broad CCS deployment within a decade. Continued U.S. leadership in technology development and future deployment is important to the cultivation of economic rewards and new business opportunities both domestically and abroad.

    NETL has prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to related to CCS.

    Your Comments: We hope the information provided in these Web pages proves of value. We welcome any comments, suggestions, or questions you might have. Click to contact us with Comments, Suggestions, or Questions.

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