Green Piece: Capturing CO2 = Greener 2Morrow
The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding the first-ever feasibility study that may lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases caused by the $140 billion pulp, paper and paperboard industry.
The $500,000 project, conducted by Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit research organization Battelle, and Boise, Idaho-headquartered packaging products manufacturer Boise Inc., will research new carbon capture and storage technology.
The seven-month study, which is being managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, will occur at Boise's pulp and paper mill near Wallula, Wash. Successful completion of the study could pave the way for pulp, paper and other industries to use technology—developed by the Irving, Texas-headquartered Fluor Corporation—that captures carbon dioxide.
"This study provides us [with] an opportunity to assess the feasibility of safely and permanently storing CO2 [carbon dioxide] in deep underground basalt formations for a commercial-scale operation," said Pete McGrail, laboratory fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and chief scientist for the project. Battelle operates PNNL for the department of energy.
During the first phase of the project, according to Boise, the team will develop a conceptual design for a sequestration system integrated with the technology that may support injecting approximately 720,000 tons of CO2 per year into a deep flood basalt formation.
Fluor will design a customized version of its Econamine FG PlusSM carbon capture technology for operation with the specialized chemical composition of exhaust gases produced from combustion of black liquor fuels. Fluor will determine whether any special modifications are needed to accommodate flue gas produced at the mill, including potential side benefits of reducing emissions of sulfur compounds, which produce odors. The technology has been commercially proven on numerous industrial facilities for more than 20 years. This will be the paper industry's first use of flue gas.
"Deep flood basalts can play a key role in helping meet global CO2 emissions targets," said McGrail. "Flood basalt formations exist in several locations of the United States and in other countries worldwide, such as India."
According to the DOE, projects will be subject to further competitive evaluation in 2010 after successful completion of their phase one activities. Projects that best demonstrate the ability to address the agency's mission needs will be in the final portfolio that will receive additional funding for design, construction and operation.
If the first phase of the evaluation is successful, project partners may propose a second-phase, commercial-design study with funding that could exceed $100 million.
Though the technology and study are very exciting, Karen L. Punch, Boise communications manager, expected it would be a "few years before this technology might be commercialized for use in the industry."
Nevertheless this step is ground-breaking.
"This technology is important because it may enable pulp and paper companies like Boise Inc. to capture and permanently sequester carbon from our manufacturing processes, which would enable us to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions," Punch added. "It could also represent an economic opportunity related to potential future developments in carbon credit markets." PPR