Carbon capture and sequestration or storage is a term that refers to the process in which carbon emissions are captured and either safely disposed of or efficiently recycled. In the fight against climate change, CCS has become an important point of discussion among scientists and policy makers.

The process of carbon capture and storage (CCS) involves capturing carbon emissions from natural occurrences and man-made sources. These emissions are then transported elsewhere and stored safely, preventing the release of further carbon and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is done in three different ways: biologically, geologically and technologically.

Biological methods refer to the storage of carbon in the oceans, vegetation and soils. The oceans absorb about 25% of the globe’s carbon emissions, with colder regions like the north or south poles absorbing more emissions than warmer regions. Forests and grasslands account for another 25% of emissions absorption, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Finally, soils can absorb carbon and convert it to carbonates, an inorganic component capable of storing carbon for more than 70,000 years, but the process could take thousands of years to form.

Geological methods refer to the storage of carbon in underground formations. Emissions generally come from man-made sources, namely outputs from industrial production and electricity generation. They are then transported to designated storage sites as solids or dissolved particles, after which they are injected into porous rock foundations where they are rendered harmless. This method ensures that carbon is never released into the atmosphere as harmful emissions.

Technological methods refer to the recycling of carbon through scientific methods and innovative engineering. Rather than a waste, carbon is used as a resource. It can be used as a raw material in the production of graphene, an important component in the construction of smartphones as well as other electronic devices. Dedicated facilities and refineries can also absorb emissions by direct air capture, although this method is energy and capital intensive. The engineered molecules are specially engineered compounds that would be able to discriminate carbon from the atmosphere on an elemental level, acting like an air filter.

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On these fronts, the latest report on climate change mitigation, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted continued signs of success and progress in implementing carbon capture and sequestration technologies. Despite these decarbonization methods becoming cheaper and easier to produce, the level of global demand for the use of conventional fossil fuels in power generation is expected to increase. So the problem is not the failure of CCS implementation, but rather it is political in nature. The technology is still relatively new and faces economic, institutional, environmental and socio-cultural barriers that prevent it from becoming widespread.

Either way, the importance of CCS as an instrument for mitigating carbon emissions cannot be overstated. Coal, oil and gas are expected to continue to dominate energy production, whose dependence has steadily increased since 2000 and even despite the advent of renewable alternatives at lower cost. To achieve the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement, the main sources of emissions must be reduced. Without CCS, dependence on fossil fuels should be completely eliminated, but this is neither feasible nor realistic in a short period of time. As such, CCS is an effective stopgap measure to phase out dependence on fossil fuels, create flexible energy systems that can adapt to cleaner renewable alternatives, and facilitate the process of phasing out non-renewable resources.

All in all, CCS may not be the magic bullet that can stop climate change in its tracks, nor should it be seen as such. Nevertheless, it is a crucial instrument when it comes to innovating existing energy systems, and it has already proven effective in mitigating the impact of energy-intensive electricity generation sources. emissions. Therefore, the role of carbon capture and sequestration technologies should continue to be discussed among scientists and policy makers, ideally implementing this measure on a larger scale to help combat climate change.

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