Power producer Vattenfall AB has to be feeling pretty proud this week. The Swedish utility has turned out the world's first pilot plant to employ carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Vattenfall has opted for "oxyfuel" combustion technology, one of three competing carbon capture options. In this process, coal is burned in nearly pure oxygen, instead of air. This eliminates noxious NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions, and helps produce a highly concentrated CO2 stream for storage. The downside is that the oxygen production process (courtesy of German gas guru Linde) is energy intensive.
If more power generators opt for oxyfuel, this would be very good news for Linde and other industrial gas guys like Air Products & Chemicals
Fortunately, there are tons of companies (and governments) throwing money at carbon capture research.
American Electric Power
Of course, there have been some bumps in the road. The ubiquitous BP
So which technology will win out? Oxyfuel can be retrofitted to existing plants, but it's energy intensive. Pre-combustion CCS may generate cheaper oxygen at new gasification plants, but this doesn't help with all of our existing generating capacity. Post-combustion scrubbing is the most expensive of all. What we need is the sort of breakthrough provided by Energy Recovery