Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a process when biomass is burned for energy and the emissions are captured and stored underground. During photosynthesis plants incorporate carbon molecules into their fibres and during decomposition or burning of plants, the carbon is released. Cardon dioxide has been utilized in many industrial processes from food production to the manufacture of fertilizers, so there is extensive knowledge on the capture and handling of the gas. In the 1990s the BECCS technology was a solution put forth by scientists to deal with rising global carbon levels. It has the potential to create negative carbon emissions as carbon is removed from the atmosphere and goes into the bedrock.
|The main types of carbon dioxide capture systems|
Pros: it can be used to support existing bioenergy framework on a local scale. Countries such as Brazil already use biomass as a fuel source. A BECCS system can be added to a biofuel plant to aid in carbon dioxide reduction. It can be used mitigation climate change in the long run as industries reliant on fossil fuels continue to release greenhouse gases. The technology is also cost effective in reducing CO2 concentration. It is also supported by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as they include it in their model on future environmental conditions. Cons: some versions of this process only allow storage for a few years and may not have climate benefits in the long run. Some scientists believe that it can have detrimental effects on the environment, since there are little studies on the technology hence, it is not rejected by sceptics.
In 2017, a group of scientists in Iceland called “CarbFix” embarked on a project which deposited a solution carbon dioxide rich water 1000 feet below the Earth’s surface into a volcanic basalt rock. The result produces a chalky film over the rock. The technology for the most part is not harmful to the environment as the carbon dioxide is stored securely and therefore does not interact with the environment for thousands of years. Drax Group, earlier this year announced that it began a BECCS project at their power plant. In a demo, they were able to capture 1 metric ton of CO2 per day and the company hopes it recreate on a larger scale.
|Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the different climates mitigation scenarios. Adapted from P. Reid and J. Lermit, "Energy", 2005.|
However, the effects of additional carbon within a rock layer have not been fully studied. If this project is done on a large scale, it can reduce carbon emissions to preindustrial levels and also reduce global temperatures within a few decades.