Honeywell – Why Carbon Capture Can Help Solve Climate Change
The United States has set ambitious environmental targets. This technology can help meet them.
In February, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. In April, President Joe Biden increased that commitment, pledging to cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030. Honeywell recently pledged to achieve carbon neutrality of its facilities and operations by 2035.
These are ambitious goals. Meeting them faster can be achieved with significant investments in carbon capture and storage. Here’s what that means.
What is Carbon Capture?
Carbon capture means capturing CO2 from sources such as industrial processes or power generation and preventing it from entering the atmosphere, either by storing it or consuming it.
There are natural ways to capture and store carbon. For example, farmers can plant cover crops that absorb carbon dioxide and sequester it in the soil. But technology makes it possible to also capture CO2 in industrial settings. In power plants, steel refineries and cement factories, carbon capture technology can trap CO2, and transport it through pipelines to carbon storage facilities where it is deposited permanently underground in depleted oil and gas wells or deep saline aquifers — far away from the atmosphere above.
Old Technology Used In New Ways
Carbon capture isn’t new. In fact, companies have been extracting CO2 from industrial process streams since the 1930s, while enhanced oil recovery dates back to the 1970s. The first carbon storage facility, was established in 1996, demonstrating the feasibility of safe long-term storage of CO2 in deep underground formations.
What’s new is the urgency around meeting carbon neutrality goals. That has created an opportunity to capture carbon on a very large scale.
The United States and the European Union are using tax credits and trading systems to incentivize carbon capture. For this and other reasons, for the first time in history, carbon capture is not only technically feasible, but also commercially viable.
Today, humankind captures only 40 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. One way to help meet climate-change objectives in the United States and around the world, would be by increasing that to as much as 5.6 billion tons per year by 2050.
Nowhere is the opportunity more compelling than in the nascent hydrogen economy. Because it doesn’t emit any CO2 when it’s burned, using hydrogen to replace natural gas for heating buildings and oil for fueling trucks can reduce climate impact. But while burning hydrogen doesn’t create harmful emissions, creating it can. If the CO2 emissions generated through the production of hydrogen can be captured and sequestered, hydrogen can be generated and used without CO2 emissions — a two-for-one proposition that could have a great impact on climate recovery.