Coal-fired power plants provide nearly 50% of all electricity in the U.S. While coal is a cheap and abundant natural resource, its continued use contributes to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. Capturing and storing this CO2 would reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels while allowing power plants to continue using inexpensive coal. Carbon capture and storage represents a significant cost to power plants that must retrofit their existing facilities to accommodate new technologies. Reducing these costs is the primary objective of ARPA-E's carbon capture program.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
General Electric (GE) Global Research and the University of Pittsburgh are developing a unique CO2 capture process in which a liquid absorbent changes into a solid upon contact with CO2. Once in solid form, the material can be separated and the CO2 can be released for storage by heating. Upon heating, the absorbent returns to its liquid form, where it can be reused to capture more CO2. The approach is more efficient than other solvent-based processes because it avoids the heating of extraneous solvents such as water. This ultimately leads to a lower cost of CO2 capture and will lower the additional cost to produce electricity for coal-fired power plants that retrofit their facilities to include this technology.
If successful, GE's absorbents would enable the reduction of significant greenhouse gas emissions while helping to position the U.S. as a global industry leader in carbon capture and storage technology.
Enabling continued use of domestic coal for electricity generation will preserve the stability of the electric grid.
Carbon capture technology could prevent more than 800 million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.
Enabling cost-effective carbon capture systems could accelerate their adoption at existing power plants.