Pipelines Required For CCS

While the ability to capture CO2 from coal-fired and natural gas power plants remains under investigation, and the ability to store CO2 underground remains in doubt, people are now looking at what it would take to transport the CO2 from where it’s been captured to where it might be sequestered.

The second edition of Carbon Folly contains a map that I prepared showing where CO2 pipelines might have to be built in the United States.

USA CO2 Pipelines
USA CO2 Pipelines

The map is based on transporting CO2 from 417 coal-fired power plants, rated 100 MW and above, to locations where it might be possible to sequester the CO2. The map does not include pipelines for transporting CO2 from the remaining coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants or from cement mills and other industrial operations, such as steel mills.

The total length of the pipelines shown in the map is nearly 11,000 miles.

In November 2011, the CO2Europipe project published a map showing where CO2 pipelines would be needed in Europe by 2050.

EU CO2 Pipelines 2050
EU CO2 Pipelines 2050

There were some important differences between the two approaches.

  • While my projections limited transporting CO2 from only 417 coal-fired power plants, the CO2Europipe project included industrial locations, such as steel mills. It also grouped point sources into clusters.
  • The CO2Europipe project also included underwater pipelines to allow sequestration under the North Sea.
  • The projected cost of the European pipeline was about $68 billion, or roughly three times my estimate. Part of the difference is caused by the higher cost of pipelines routed underwater. The CO2Europipe project also had more engineers working on the project, which probably resulted in more detailed estimates.
  • The European pipeline would also cross country borders. Cross border issues complicate construction, funding and sequestration. Local popular discontent with CO2 sequestration is complicating decision making.

There were also some similarities between my projections and those of the CO2Europipe project.

  • The CO2Europipe project concluded there would be a need for at least 13,000 miles of pipelines.
  • The CO2Europipe report also reiterated there would be safety issues when transporting CO2 at high pressures of approximately 2,000 psi. Issues surrounding the purity of the CO2 stream, mixing of different streams and prevention of crack propagation are examples.
  • The report also reiterated the fact that locations for sequestering CO2 had not been properly evaluated.

Carbon Folly contains more detailed information about CCS and the pipelines required for transporting CO2. Carbon Folly also explores other related issues. See www.carbonfolly.com

Three earlier articles also discussed CCS in more detail. See Carbon Capture;  and CO2 Pipeline Concerns with CCS and CO2 Pipeline Rights of Way

The EU study of CO2 transportation issues, coupled with problems surrounding CO2 capture and sequestration, reinforces the impression that CCS is a boondoggle that should be abandoned.

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8 Replies to “Pipelines Required For CCS”

  1. Thanks.
    CCS is a fantasy, but too many people are using CCS as a vehicle for perpetuating the idea that we can cut our CO2 emissions 80% by 2050. Even the coal industry is hanging onto CCS to promote Clean Coal, when, in fact, clean coal should be used to describe ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants.

    • Partly agree with you there, Donn, but ultra-supercrit steam technology isn’t there yet mostly because of materials limitations. Clean Coal ought to (and does) refer to coal gasification, turbine combustion or high temp fuel cell use of the gas, and secondary use of the hot gas exhaust in a secondary steam cycle.

      Coal gas enriched with (nuclear electricity) hydrogen to produce F-T oil as diesel fuel or conversion of enriched coal gas to methanol then gasoline ought to be available for the greatest use of US coal in the history of the United States. (Oxygen produced from the electrolysis is used to enrich the coal gasification).

      • Materials are the major limitation, but ultra-supercritical plants are being built in Europe and China. The even more advanced units will require further improvements in materials. With currently available materials, between 40 and 45 % efficiencies can be achieved. This compares with the 32% efficiency of the current fleet of coal fired power plants.

  2. I think there is a more brain dead, imbecilic, and lunatic scheme than Carbon Capture that has been carried out on an industrial scale…

    But I can’t for the life of me remember what that is right now.

    Morgantown and Pittsburgh energy technology centers, which have developed a lot of very good coal fired electricity technology, have been compelled to work on this unfathomably stupid Carbon Capture concept – it must make those people sick

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