What is Carbon Capture – And How Does It Work?

What is carbon capture and how does it work to reduce carbon emissions?

5 min

pollution industrail production carbon emissions; polluted air

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Is carbon capture the answer to reduce the carbon emissions we’ve already made?

We’re always talking about the irreversible damage that has already been done to the environment, and all the pollution that we’ve put into the air that we’ll never be able to remove… or can we?

New technology 📟has paved the way for new machinery that can actually remove carbon dioxide from the air to combat climate change.🌡️

💨 What is Carbon Capture?

What is Carbon Capture? Carbon Capture, otherwise known as Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS for short, is a corrective method to reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon Capture is a three-step process, which includes capturing the carbon dioxide emitted or generated by industrial activity, then transferring it to store it into the Earth 🌎 – otherwise, as far away from the air as possible. 

The unique aspect about carbon capture is that it is indeed effective at removing carbon emissions already present in the atmosphere from the environment or even before they do – even if it is slow or expensive for a company to install. 

In other words, it is one of the only technologies that actually reverses climate change rather than trying to prevent it.

How did Carbon Capture start? The first carbon capture plant started all the way back in 1938, and the first large-scale project to inject CO2 into the ground launched in the Sharon Ridge oilfield in Texas in 1972. 

In 1996, Norway launched, “Sleipner” – the world’s first integrated carbon capture and storage project, and as technology continues to evolve, carbon capture has only been able to grow. 

As of today in 2022, there are 43 commercial large-scale carbon capture and storage productions in progress around the globe. 🌎

🔍 How does carbon capture work?

So, how does carbon capture and storage work? Carbon capture and storage, CCS, works in three steps:

1. Capture 📦

Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere using carbon capture and storage technologies – kind of like a giant vacuum cleaner to clean up the environment. 

Carbon capture and storage machineries most often remove carbon emissions from the direct source of activity before they even have the ability to enter the atmosphere.

2. Transport 🎈

The captured carbon dioxide is then consolidated and transferred through pipes, roads, ships to an onsite storage facility.

3. Store 🚪

Lastly, the captured carbon dioxide is stored deep underground, where it can no longer do any harm to the atmosphere.

Need a real life example? 💭Think of Carbon Capture and Storage like this – you are about to do something you’ve dreamed of for a long time : such as travel, start a new job or get married, and you are bursting with excitement.😁

It’s no use to expel that energy you have for the upcoming event, because if you do – you won’t be able to enjoy it as you otherwise would be able to. 

So, what do you do?  Instead, you bury your excitement 🎉and keep busy with other things until the time for the thrilling event arrives. 

👉 Carbon Capture and Storage promotes a similar ideal, because not only does it collect harmful carbon emissions already present in the air, but some companies are discovering innovative ways to actually reuse this pollution for other products.

✅ How does carbon capture reduce carbon emissions?

How does carbon capture reduce carbon emissions? Carbon capture and storage seek to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by directly capturing the emissions from the source of the polluting activity, and relocate it underground ⛏️where it can no longer perpetuate damage to the environment. 🌎

Therefore, carbon capture and storage reduces carbon emissions as it directly decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

🤔 How is carbon capture and storage different from direct air capture?

Carbon capture and storage is the process of collecting and storing carbon so that it can be reused or no longer pollute the environment. Carbon capture and storage removes carbon dioxide from the source of the activity before it can be emitted into the atmosphere, whereas direct air capture (otherwise known as DAC) removes the carbon dioxide directly from the air. 💨

Carbon capture and storage prevents new fossil fuels from entering the atmosphere, whereas direct air capture removes old carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into the air. 

Both carbon capture and storage and direct air capture help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but carbon capture and storage has the potential to both reduce and reuse ♻️ the previous carbon dioxide – whereas direct air capture simply removes it. 

📗 What is the difference between carbon capture and carbon sequestration?

What is the difference between carbon capture and carbon sequestration?

Carbon capture and storage involve capturing, relocating, and storing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere, while carbon sequestration only involves storing carbon dioxide for a longer period of time.

Carbon capture usually only refers to the process of collecting carbon from the source of the high carbon footprint machinery or activity, whereas carbon sequestration only refers to the long period of time in which that capture carbon dioxide will be stored. 

Carbon sequestration and storage explain not only the carbon dioxide that has been emitted into the air, but also the amount of fossil fuels or harbored by vegetation or sediment. In short, carbon sequestration also refers to the amount of carbon emissions present in the soil, ocean, and forests. 🌲

Both carbon capture and carbon sequestration effectively halt climate change. 🌡️

🟢🔴 But what are the pros and cons of carbon capture and storage?

Carbon capture effectively reduces carbon emissions, and it is a valuable resource for industries that can’t afford to purchase recycled carbon dioxide – therefore, the biggest potential benefit of carbon capture is its ability to recycle previous carbon emissions. 

However, there are some drawbacks. In order to work successfully, carbon capture and storage demands physically large equipment which takes an enormous amount of energy to function.

So, not only is the equipment itself expensive – but it is also costly to run a carbon capture system.

While there are concerns regarding the safety of carbon capture and storage – it is ultimately a safe 😊and effective practice. 

It is important to note that similar to carbon offsetting, carbon capture and storage does not solve the source of the problem in regards to climate change – carbon capture and storage is a method to mitigate damage that has already occurred, and it is most important to implement actions to prevent further global warming. 🌎

🏢 Companies & Carbon Capture

Carbon capture and storage is more common with already existing, well-known companies than you think. 

The best example is ExxonMobil – who have been leading the way for carbon capture use and installation more than any other company, as they have been the most successful company in capturing carbon dioxide for fifty years.

ExxonMobil doesn’t strive to be the only company to excel in capturing carbon dioxide, but to influence other companies to do the same – as they have been seeking to collaborate with others to create new carbon capture technologies. 

Which companies could benefit from practicing the same dedication towards carbon capture and storage like ExxonMobil?

Well – one liter bottle of Coca-Cola creates 346 carbon dioxide emissions alone, 😬and that’s why Coca-Cola is now committed to corrective action through the use of recyclable carbon dioxide to make their soda sparkling. 

The Coca-Cola Company has been purchasing recycled carbon dioxide emissions from a company called Climeworks. 

Not only is Climeworks seeking to remove carbon dioxide emissions already in the atmosphere, but they are committed to finding new ways to reuse these emissions in commonalities such as soda.🍹

There’s no need to pollute the environment further when a process like carbon capture and storage and cultivate and allow for the reuse of carbon dioxide that’s already been created.

📝 What are some alternatives to carbon capture if you and your company can’t afford it?

Like many productive actions taken to reduce carbon emissions, the problem of pollution is unfortunately already here. 

Even if every company had the financial resources to build the devices necessary to execute carbon capture and storage – it’s still not powerful enough to reverse the environmental predicament already present.

So, what are other affordable 💸 ways to commit to the fight against global warming? 🌎

1. Carbon Offsetting Projects 🛠

Carbon offsetting is a method of contributing to another third party or organization with a mission to protect the environment or reduce carbon emissions.

The company or individual investing into the  environmental project does so with the intent of offsetting their previous carbon footprint.👣

There are many carbon offsetting projects to choose from, and while they don’t directly reduce the carbon emissions made by you or your company – they are most certainly better than sitting back and doing nothing.

2. Purchasing Carbon Credits 💳

Carbon credits are a tradable request that represent an amount of carbon dioxide to be removed from the air. 

Carbon credits can be bought by an individual or a company as an attempt to counteract industrial production or activity that created a high rate of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. 

Carbon capture and storage is more effective than carbon credits or carbon offsetting projects because it seeks to reverse the damage that has already been done to the environment, but both are good alternative options if carbon capture and storage isn’t feasible.

3. Establishing an EMS; Most Affordable 💻

The most affordable way to fight against climate change is to establish an Environmental Management System, otherwise known as an EMS. 

If your company outlines the precautionary measures that could be taken to reduce their carbon emissions, investing in a carbon capture and storage system won’t be as necessary.

Also, establishing an EMS paves the way to apply for an ISO 14001 certification – which only benefits your organization to be more sustainable and qualified through this well-known environmental accreditation. 

In conclusion, if your company can afford to install and integrate a carbon capture system – do it. 

Acquiring a carbon capture and storage system is well worthwhile, despite the oxberhant cost and space that carbon capture and storage requires, as it strives to continuously reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air. 

As technology continues to evolve, carbon capture and storage systems will only become more effective and useful in the fight against global warming – but don’t forget to implement the easy and affordable actions you and your company can take to prevent climate change today!

🍀 What about Greenly?

If reading this article about carbon capture has made you interested in reducing your carbon emission to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint without the need for using a carbon capture and storage system. 

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