EXPLAINED: Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

In order to keep the global temperature below 1.5 ℃ and avoid irreversible alteration to our climate not only do we need to cut our current emissions substantially, but we also need to create negative emissions (also called carbon sinks).

One technology that shows potential to decarbonize the industry is carbon capture and storage (CCS). By applying CCS on plants with primarily biogenic CO2 emissions (BECCS) one can achieve negative emissions as CO2 once removed from the atmosphere is permanently stored underground.

Schematic process model of a full-chain carbon capture and storage infrastructure integrated with a bio-based power plant (BECCS).

The BECCS process include following steps:  

  1. CO2 is absorbed by trees through photosynthesis. Residues from the forest industry is then utilized as fuel.
  2. The most mature method for existing power plants is separating carbon dioxide from the flue gas (post-combustion) by absorption using solvents which selectively absorb CO2 into liquid phase. The liquid solvent enriched with CO2 is then heated and vaporized and the chemical bounds between the solvent and CO2 is breaks.
  3. Pure CO2 gas is collected and liquefied in order to enable transportation.
  4. Liquid CO2 is then transported to the harbor, loaded onto ships and transported to a temporarily storage.
  5. and 6. Finally, the CO2 is transported down under the seabed by pipelines and permanently stored in sedimentary basins 3 000 meter under the seabed. Other potential storage sites include injection in bedrock to enhance mineralization.  
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