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Carbon capture cost, scale still a challenge

The individual pieces of a carbon capture and storage puzzle have beenaround for a while, but there’s a long way to go before those fragmentscan be assembled at a big enough scale and cheaply enough to put aworthwhile dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

The individual pieces of a carbon capture and storage puzzle have been around for a while, but there’s a long way to go before those fragments can be assembled at a big enough scale and cheaply enough to put a worthwhile dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

“At large scale it’s not been done, and we need to learn how to do it in a much more cost-effective manner,’’ said Eddy Isaacs, executive director of the Alberta Energy Research Institute.

The technology — which got an $865-million boost from the Alberta and federal governments last week — involves separating climate-change-causing carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and injecting the gas deep underground, rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere.

Refineries, petrochemical plants and other industrial facilities have employed the “capture’’ part of the equation for some time, using special chemicals to scrub poisonous hydrogen sulphide and other contaminants from their emissions.

Methods of storing gasses are also well established.

“The technologies are existing at fairly large scales. It’s just that they’ve not been arranged or configured to be specifically focused simply on carbon capture and sequestration,’’ said Gerry Ertel, Shell Canada Ltd.’s manager of regulatory affairs.

A proposal spearheaded by Shell, along with minority partners Chevron Canada and Marathon Oil, was the beneficiary of the government funding announced last Thursday.

 
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