Carbon capture and storage (CCS) captures carbon dioxide (CO₂) at the source, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. The captured CO₂ emissions are either transported, stored or utilized for other industrial products. For many industrial facilities, CCS is an essential component of their Net Zero journey.
CCS offers a proven method for removing carbon at a large scale from emission sources. Today, there are approximately 65 commercial scale Carbon Capture facilities globally in various stages of operation. To meet the stated global climate mitigation targets, over 2,000 large-scale Carbon Capture facilities will be needed across all industries from Natural Gas processing to Power Generation to Cement production.
Deploying Carbon Capture, especially at scale, does have its challenges. At Spartan Controls, we have proven solutions to many such challenges, but we also continue to innovate and seek new ways to apply process control and automation technologies in this emerging industry.
Carbon Capture processes come in various forms including pre-combustion, post-combustion, oxyfuel-combustion and direct air capture (DAC). The pre-combustion capture is most prevalent in hydrogen production units while post-combustion capture is most commonly used for adding to existing emitting sources. DAC is relatively new technology that is rapidly gaining acceptance. In all of these processes, automation plays an important role in ensuring safe, reliable and efficient operation while minimizing costs.
CO₂ must be compressed to high pressures for transport to maintain the liquid state and to improve overall efficiency. High-reliability operation of the compression systems is essential to allow constant flow of captured carbon. Accurate measurement systems are also required for custody transfer between carbon supplier and transportation owner. To maintain pipeline integrity, modern real-time analysis as well as monitoring can greatly reduce the need for constant inspections.
Once the captured carbon makes it to the sequestration or utilization site, safe-handling and long-term containment monitoring become a key focus. Real-time and constant monitoring technologies can greatly reduce the burden on field operations teams and provide useful data and analytics for regulatory reporting. Injection rates and percentage composition type of measurements rely on proven measurement and automation technologies coupled with modern digital connectivity for efficient and compliant monitoring of operations.
Key Challenges in CCS
Adding Carbon Capture to existing or planned industrial facilities is currently costly. According to the Global CCS Institute, levelized costs range from $50 US/t to over $250 US/t.
Carbon Capture is an energy intensive process resulting in relatively high operating costs. Electricity and steam inputs to the process typically account for over 50% of the operating costs.
Liquids and hydrates in the transport systems can lead to severe corrosion causing premature equipment failures.
Carbon leakage during transport as well as post-sequestration is a major concern and a key regulatory requirement. Reliable monitoring is essential.
Reliable operation of the Carbon Capture process is a must as it will govern the operability of the industrial facility. Unavailability of the capture unit may force shutdown of the whole plant.
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