Goodbye smokestacks: Startup invents zero-emission fossil fuel power

May 24, 2017

By Robert F. Service

Between the energy hub of Houston, Texas, and the Gulf Coast lies a sprawling petropolis: a sea of refineries and oil storage tanks, power lines, and smokestacks, all dedicated to converting fossil fuels into dollars. They are the reason why the Houston area emits more carbon dioxide (CO2) than anyplace else in the United States.

But here, on the eastern edge of that CO2 hot spot, a new fossil fuel power plant showcases a potential remedy for Houston’s outsized greenhouse gas footprint. The facility looks suspiciously like its forebears, a complex the size of two U.S. football fields, chock-a-block with snaking pipes and pumps. It has a turbine and a combustor. But there is one thing it doesn’t need: smokestacks.

Zero-emission fossil fuel power sounds like an oxymoron. But when that 25-megawatt demonstration plant is fired up later this year, it will burn natural gas in pure oxygen. The result: a stream of nearly pure CO2, which can be piped away and stored underground or blasted into depleted oil reservoirs to free more oil, a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Either way, the CO2 will be sequestered from the atmosphere and the climate.

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3 comments on “Goodbye smokestacks: Startup invents zero-emission fossil fuel power

  • @OP – The result: a stream of nearly pure CO2, which can be piped away and stored underground or blasted into depleted oil reservoirs to free more oil, a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Either way, the CO2 will be sequestered from the atmosphere and the climate.

    Doesn’t that kind of miss the point that the extracted oil will cause more pollution?

    Either way, the CO2 will be sequestered from the atmosphere and the climate.

    Given the rates of leakage of oil and gas seepage from abandoned – supposedly capped oil wells, I am sceptical.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/abandoned-wells-leak-powerful-greenhouse-gas/ December 9, 2014

    There are 300,000 to 500,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, and some of them might be leaking significant quantities of the potent greenhouse gas methane

    The scientists found that both plugged and unplugged wells were emitting methane.
    It is possible that the plugs may have failed over time because cement has an average lifetime of 30 years.
    Some of these wells were more than half a century older.

    Of the 19 wells, three were unusually high emitters, Kang said.



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  • Whilst choosing clean, lets choose sustainable as well.

    Burning high value resources is stupid. Burn green gas, turning a huge pollutant CH4 from human and animal waste into a more benign CO2 (only 5% as immediately warming to our atmosphere) and lots of energy and let nature recycle it for you. Leave irreplaceable hydrocarbons in the ground for your kids and theirs (they’ll know better than us if anything is to be done with them).



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  • Yes Alan4Disucssion,

    my thoughts exactly when reading this. They’ve done some studies here in Australia showing that most of the captured C02 would leak out in a few hundred years. This is not clean by any means and not cheaper. It seems these figures never calculate the cost of long term harm to the environment into the equation.



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