What exactly is carbon capture? We asked John Bradford, geophysics professor and vice president for global initiatives at Colorado School of Mines to explain.
Carbon capture is effectively preventing the carbon from getting into the atmosphere. So we’re emitting it, and we’re emitting it from all sorts of sources. Some of that might be a power plant that’s burning gas or burning coal, could be a tailpipe emission. There’s also a lot of CO2 emission that comes from concrete production, so that’s another point source of emission. There’s also CO2 emitted when you brew beer, for example. So there are a lot of different sources.
So the carbon capture component is just capturing the CO2, preventing it from going into the atmosphere. And so there’s a lot of technological development that has to happen for that to work. And we know how to do this now. There are technologies for doing it, ranging from specialized membranes that have special chemistry in them that capture the CO2 as the gas passes through the membrane. Of course, right, growing plants. That’s a good way of capturing carbon as well. And so there’s a lot of research going on into bio capture of carbon. So there are different ways to do it.
The utilization part is then using that carbon in some other way that might be useful for society. There’s certain processes for producing concrete that would use some of the carbon and then store it. There are processes for producing biofuels. So you can grow certain types of algae and convert the algaes into a different type of fuel. When you use that fuel, then, again, the CO2 is being emitted so you have to capture it again, but you make a closed loop in that way rather than a one way emission. But then we also know we have a lot of carbon that’s just sitting out there in the atmosphere. We have too much in the atmosphere now so we need to pull that out of the atmosphere. So there are large systems for passing the atmosphere gas through these big membranes to capture the CO2.
To learn more about how Mines is helping shape the world’s energy future visit mines.edu/energyfuture.
This episode of The Conveyor was produced by Ashley Spurgeon and was hosted and edited by Dannon Cox.
About the Podcast
The Conveyor brings listeners insights into the latest research, new discoveries and world-changing ideas from Colorado School of Mines.
The viewpoints and opinions expressed by featured guests do not necessarily represent those of Colorado School of Mines.