Sunday, February 22, 2009

Carbon Sequester- Who pays and how?

Alberta Carbon Sequester program has been taking a lot of flack in the media these days, for all the wrong reasons. It has the potential to be the power line "who pays" issue all over again.

On the plus side carbon dioxide treated in this manner can be measured unlike the cap and trade thing that is so popular in shifting cash around the world.

Carbon must first be collected! This means coal burning generation plants will have to be re built or, significantly revamped! This is going to cost over a billion dollars and one has to ask who is going to pay and how much are we going to be asked to pay.

The act of collection requires a large containment. Nitrogen and air is pumped out of the container. Coal is heated in the containment, giving off methane and hydrogen. Oxygen is introduced into the container and a flash fire is created. Because it is an oxygen burn, nearly pure carbon dioxide is given off. There are variations in the mechanics of the process.
The heat generated is used to heat steam to power the generators. The carbon dioxide is collected and put into temporary storage awaiting shipment down line which brings us to the pipelines needed.

Pipelines are going to be needed to move the collected carbon dioxide from the coal burning plants to where it is to be used or disposed of. Yes, there is a difference. There is probably more than a billion dollars needed for pipelines when it is over. Who pays? How do we pay?

Much carbon dioxide will be pumped down hole into existing older oil strata where it will be used as a solvent to free up oil moving it to the surface. The carbon dioxide will not stay down hole in most cases but will come up to the surface again either with the oil or separately. This is what is happening at Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Putting carbon dioxide down hole is not the same as sequestering!

Deep below the Viking formation (where the old oil is to be found) is a saline water aquifer. It is unpotable, never to be used for human or animal consumption. It is loaded with mineral salts and generally very toxic substance. This aquifer is encased both top and bottom with bedrock. The oil companies have rejected the use of this aquifer for their drilling water citing it as being too expensive.

This saline aquifer (and others similar) is where the anticipated sequestering is to take place. At this depth carbon dioxide is super critical. It is a liquid which will blend with the underground saline water and will stay there presumably until it is absorbed into the bedrock again.
Post a Comment
Newer Post Older Post a> Home