ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat in joint development agreement to advance atmospheric carbon capture technology
28 June 2019
ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat signed a joint development agreement to advance technology that can capture and concentrate carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources, including power plants, and the atmosphere.
The companies will evaluate the potential scalability of Global Thermostat’s carbon capture technology for large industrial use. If technical readiness and scalability is established, pilot projects at ExxonMobil facilities could follow.
Advancing technologies to capture and concentrate carbon dioxide for storage and potential industrial use is among a suite of ExxonMobil research programs focused on developing lower-emissions solutions to mitigate the risks of climate change.
Our scientists see potential in this exciting technology that could lead to more affordable methods to reduce emissions in power generation and manufacturing, along with removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.—Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company
ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat are also exploring opportunities to identify economic uses for captured carbon dioxide.
Formed in 2010, Global Thermostat (GT) uses custom equipment and proprietary (dry) amine-based chemical sorbents that are bonded to porous, honeycomb ceramic monoliths which act together as carbon sponges. These carbon sponges efficiently adsorb CO2 directly from the atmosphere, smokestacks, or a combination of both.
The captured CO2 is then stripped off and collected using low-temperature steam (85-100° C), ideally sourced from residual/process heat at little or no-cost. The output results in 98% pure CO2 at standard temperature and pressure. During the process only steam and electricity are consumed, without the creation of emissions or other effluents. This entire process is mild, safe, and carbon negative.
Scaling solutions that can address climate change globally requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration. Global Thermostat’s game-changing direct-air capture and flue gas capture technologies offer a way to transform the risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions into a global solution that could satisfy both business and environmental objectives.
By partnering with ExxonMobil, we’re harnessing the expertise and capabilities of one of the world’s largest energy companies to accelerate our ability to realize that vision.—Peter Eisenberger, chief technology officer and co-founder of Global Thermostat
ExxonMobil’s partnership with Global Thermostat expands the company’s collaborative efforts with other companies and academic institutions that are focused on developing new energy technologies, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The company recently committed to spend up to $100 million over 10 years on research with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory to bring lower-emissions technologies to commercial scale.
Since 2000, ExxonMobil has invested more than $9 billion in energy efficiency and lower-emission technologies such as carbon capture and next generation biofuels. ExxonMobil also works with about 80 universities around the world to explore next-generation energy technologies.
This could be very interesting.
If atmospheric carbon capture is compensated as negative emissions (being paid out of carbon taxes), then this could solve two problems for nuclear power plants. NPPs are being derided as unable to follow changes in net power demand. However, if steam was tapped off the turbines to do CO2 stripping, power could be reduced while producing a CO2 stream as feedstock or for sequestration. This would also allow fast power ramping by closing the steam taps, so those same plants could provide spinning reserve during off-peak hours.
Global Thermostat claims to have the lowest-cost capture technology but doesn't provide specifics from their page. This looks sketchy. It wouldn't cost them anything to provide a range of values per kg and it would make their tech much easier to evaluate.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 28 June 2019 at 07:28 AM
Better to capture carbon before it gets in the air.
Posted by: SJC | 29 June 2019 at 02:00 PM
I found a number of 497 kJ/kg for the capture energy requirements, and another one of 172 kJ/kg. I'm not sure how much to trust these because I have no idea how they are derived or what they include.
A typical modern PWR has about 3400 MW thermal power and an efficiency of about 33%. Tapping steam at the 100°C level probably reduces that to about 20%, so 100% diversion would reduce output from ~1100 MW(e) to about 680 MW(e). Available thermal power would be roughly 2700 MW(t).
Assuming 500 kJ/kg CO2 capture energy just for the back of the envelope, and diversion of 60% of turbine steam at 100°C from the low-pressure turbine of a power plant:
Electric output reduced from 1100 MW to 857 MW (about 22%).
Diverted steam thermal power 1632 MW(t).
Potential CO2 capture 3264 kg/sec = 3.26 tons/sec.
Doing this 8 hours a day 340 days a year (gotta refuel sometime) nets you 96 million tons of CO2 per year. Seems awfully high, but even if the energy cost is 10 times as much, the US's plants could pretty easily pull half a billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year with off-peak steam.
Now if Global Thermostat would only come clean about their exact energy requirements....
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 29 June 2019 at 05:49 PM
And what do we do with all this CO2?
Storing it underground seems much more dangerous than storing nuclear waste.
Nuclear waste is unlikely to escape and suffocate people.
Posted by: Steve Reynolds | 29 June 2019 at 08:13 PM
Shoot it into basalts, maybe?
Unless it turns into carbonates in just a few years, then it's going nowhere.
Great! But we still have a massive amount of atmospheric CO2 to get rid of to restore the normal balance. If injecting it into rocks isn't an option, tell me what is.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 29 June 2019 at 08:57 PM
There are numerous ways to create clean energy, i.e., hydro, solar, wind, wave; and, there are countless ways to store the energy cleanly. Why keep using methodologies that create detrimental toxins and then increases the overhead by having to clean them up? Why not just spend the time and money to develop the known clean methods and devices and not create the toxins?
Posted by: Lad | 30 June 2019 at 02:08 PM
The two most energy-consuming and expensive steps in CO2 sequestration are:
1) separate the CO2 from very diluted l level in the air, and,
2) Compress the CO2 from atmospheric pressure to thousands of psi for sequestration.
The use of higher-CO2 concentration in power-plant exhaust would make it less expensive than CO2 from the air, but still requires the costly compression step from atmospheric pressure to thousands of psi.
However, the use of almost-pure CO2 from the process of steam reformation of natural gas, coupled with the very high pressures at thousands of psi already existed in the steam-reformation vessels means that:
the use of H2 by end-users, when the H2 is produced from reformation of fossil fuel, would result in by far the easiest and least costly CO2 sequestration.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 01 July 2019 at 02:17 AM
Continued from above:
So, the easiest way to decarbonize fossil fuel and even waste biomass would be to steam reform them at nearby oil and gas fields, whereby the waste high-pressure and highly-concentrated CO2 stream is already ready to be sequestered down into depleted oil and gas wells nearby. The H2 produced at nearby the oil and gas fields would be pumped in pipelines to reach end-users, analogous to what would be done for natural gas.
Just substituting zero-carbon H2 gas for the natural gas,for use by the end-users, that's all. The UK is considering going that route, to replace natural gas with H2, with CO2 sequestration if the H2 is made from hydrocarbon sources.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 01 July 2019 at 02:28 AM
Yet the ONLY one that has gone anywhere without subsidies is hydro. Until you understand WHY, you will never be able to distinguish what may work and what cannot work.
No there aren't. There are maybe 2 ways, pumped hydro and compressed/liquid air. Everything else demands materials that are toxic, polluting or both.
Why, indeed? Why go after e.g. wind power when it requires many times the concrete and steel, and generates many times the related pollution, of nuclear power?
Nuclear has the virtue that its toxic wastes decay. They steadily disappear all by themselves. Give them enough time and they will be gone.
Because of Green propaganda which induces paranoia about nuclear power, that's why. This propaganda is the only reason that the industrial nations still burn coal for electricity. We were on track to get rid of it in the 1960's, but they "saved" most of the world from cleaning up our electric grids.
Show your appreciation by finding the graves of some of these pioneering "Greens" and leaving a six-pack of beer on them, after running it through your kidneys.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 01 July 2019 at 08:49 AM
EP: "But we still have a massive amount of atmospheric CO2 to get rid of to restore the normal balance. If injecting it into rocks isn't an option, tell me what is."
It will eventually dissolve into the oceans by itself over decades, or faster with ocean fertilization.
Also, it is not clear the present CO2 level is a bad level. Plants like it better than 280 ppm.
Certainly much higher than present levels will eventually be a serious problem, so working to reduce emissions is important.
Posted by: Steve Reynolds | 02 July 2019 at 04:17 PM
It's going to have to be MUCH faster, because the Arctic is starting to melt some 70 years sooner than projections had it doing. That can pull the trigger on the "clathrate gun".
Plants got along fine when it was 200 ppm; the Sahara was a forest. Too much GHG and the Earth turns into Venus Redux. This is bad, mmmkay?
We need to get things down to a max of 350 ppm and do it fast.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 02 July 2019 at 05:18 PM