Climate love
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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Climate love

Promises to strip carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories at record low cost.


Scientists at one of the country’s premier research labs have discovered a record-cheap way to capture carbon dioxide as it’s emitted from power plants and factories, including the likes of iron and steel manufacturing facilities.
Globally, industrial processes are responsible for 31 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions and electricity generation accounts for 27 percent, according to Bill Gates in his climate book, dwarfing the 16 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions that comes from the transportation sector.
The new technique discovered by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory costs $39 per metric ton and is the cheapest technique for this kind of carbon capture ever reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. For comparison, it costs $57 per metric ton to capture carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant using current state-of-the-art technology, PNNL says.
It would be even cheaper if we could transition to 100% clean energy and didn’t have to remove carbon dioxide at all, but that’s not realistic in today’s global economy, according to Casie Davidson, who manages carbon management work at PNNL.
Even if the electric grid were powered primarily by wind and solar, there would still need to be natural gas plants to maintain grid stability, or to provide backup when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, Davidson said.
Just as importantly, industrial processes such as making iron, steel, cement, fertilizer, pulp and paper, and bioenergy could all reduce their carbon dioxide emissions this new technique. Scientists and entrepreneurs are working on greener ways of making cement and steel, for example, but those are not at scale, Davidson told CNBC.
“We have the technology to be able to capture carbon dioxide from those industrial point sources. And sitting around waiting for 20 years until we have the next-generation steel technology that doesn’t generate carbon dioxide emissions doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Davidson told CNBC.
PNNL’s technique removes carbon dioxide at the source, rather than sucking it out of the air. The technique of vacuuming up existing CO2 out of the air is known as direct carbon capture, and is exemplified by the Swiss company Climeworks. Direct air capture may be necessary to combat climate change, since there is already so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but it’s much more expensive than removing CO2 at the source, as PNNL is doing — the direct air capture that Climeworks is doing costs “several hundred dollars” per ton, a spokesperson told CNBC.

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  • mercy nduta

    69 w

    If enough carbon is sequestered, and emissions reduced, then the greenhouse effect will be reduced in the future, resulting in fewer warmer days as well as less occurrence of drought and other extreme weather cycles associated with climate change

    7
    • Rashid Kamau

      69 w

      Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Can Improve Air Quality and Save Lives. Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to slow climate change could prevent millions of premature deaths due to air pollution over the next century

      6
      • We Don't Have Time

        69 w

        Dear Tabitha Kimani Thank you for getting your climate love to level 2! We have reached out to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! /Adam We Don't Have Time

        • Kevin Waweru

          73 w

          We pray the scientist continue making breakthroughs to curb CO2 emissions

          8
          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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