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Carbon-Dioxide Removal

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November 27, 2023

Why in news?

As nations gather for the COP 28 in Dubai, the question of carbon capture’s future role in a climate-friendly world will be in focus.

What is Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)?

  • Carbon removal- Using technologies, practices, and approaches to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere through deliberate and intentional human actions.
  • It captures CO2 from the atmosphere and locks it away for decades or centuries in plants, soils, oceans, rocks, saline aquifers, depleted oil wells, or long- lived products like cement.

Co2-removal

  • Process- CDR can be done through traditional or technological processes or both.

Process

Examples

Traditional

process

  • Afforestation
  • Reforestation
  • Agricultural practices that sequester carbon in soils (carbon farming)

Technological process

  • Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS)
  • Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS)
  • Enhanced rock weathering
  • Forms of CDR- The most common form of carbon capture technology involves capturing the gas from a point source like an industrial smokestack.
  • Carbon storage- It includes
    • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) - The carbon can be moved directly to permanent underground storage.
    • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) – Carbon can be used in another industrial purpose first.

As of 2023, CDR is estimated to remove around 2 gigatons of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to 4% of the greenhouse gases emitted per year by human activities.

What are the different CDR methods?

CDR method

About

Challenges

Afforestation/ Reforestation

  • Converts abandoned or degraded agricultural lands into forests.
  • Additional trees can sequester more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Increases the competition for land.
  • May limit the options for food production and biodiversity conservation.

Biochar

  • A substance produced by burning organic waste from agricultural lands and forests in a controlled process called pyrolysis.
  • Improve soil quality, which in turn improves soil fertility, productivity and crop yield.
  • Health and environmental impacts of particulate matter produced during pyrolysis.
  • Sourcing sustainable biomass at a scale.

BECCS

  • Combines energy production, biological carbon removal and geological storage.
  • Uses biomass in combustion to generate energy, then captures the emitted carbon for geological injection.
  • Can create competition for land use with food production, placing pressure on food security.
  • Can increase the use of fertilisers.

DACCS

  • Extracts CO2 directly from the atmosphere, and is permanently stored in geological formation or used for other application.
  • Accelerates fossil fuel extraction activities, potential CO₂ leakage from storage sites

Enhanced rock weathering

  • Involves pulverising silicate rocks to bypass the conventionally slow weathering action.
  • Energy intensive process and generates emissions.

Ocean alkalinity enhancement

  • A chemical removal method that involves adding alkaline substances to seawater to accelerate the natural sink.
  • Potential for increased greenhouse gas emissions and can release by-products like trace metals.

/co2-removalWhat lies ahead?

  • CDR methods require appropriate governance and policies as they can cause adverse side-effects apart from the predicted benefits.
  • The need of the hour is to accelerate research and development and incentivise CDR deployment, a political commitment, including reliable measurement, reporting, and verification of carbon flows as recommended by IPCC.

 

References

  1. The Hindu- What is CO2 removal explained
  2. The Hindu- Why carbon capture is no easy solution
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