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First of its kind - Jennifer Wilcox's Carbon Capture
With the burning of fossil fuels currently meeting more than 80 per cent of the world’s energy needs, the scientific community agrees that the solution for mitigating CO2 emissions lies in a portfolio of strategies, including carbon capture and storage and potentially carbon capture and utilization. Carbon capture i.e. the mitigation of CO2 through its separation from gas mixtures, such as power plant emissions will play a critical role in stabilizing global warming.
In April this year I published Carbon Capture, the first book of its kind, with a particular focus as a resource for chemistry and chemical engineering students and practitioners.
Carbon Capture provides an interdisciplinary approach to the energy science subfield of carbon capture, and explains the fundamentals of gas separation and their link to the design process. It is based on fundamental chemical concepts, including thermodynamics, combustion, kinetics, mass transfer, material properties, and the relationship between the chemistry and the process of carbon capture technologies.
As an emerging field, carbon capture crosses many disciplines. In coming decades, engineers, chemists, physicists, earth scientists, mathematicians, and social scientists will advance traditional separation technologies. For example, amine-based scrubbing for CO2 capture has been used for more than 70 years to purify natural gas. However, it is unclear whether this technology will be optimal for tackling the vast quantities of energy-related CO2 emitted annually (∼31 Gt worldwide). The book covers the limitations of traditional gas-separation technologies in the context of CO2 capture, and how these technologies could be advanced to meet the scale challenge required to substantially decrease CO2 emissions.
Focusing solely on a variety of methods for capturing CO2, the core of the book discusses the most advanced CO2 capture technologies, including absorption, adsorption, and membranes. There are also chapters on algae and electrochemical/photocatalytic CO2-to-fuel conversion processes. The reduction of CO2 via photosynthesis or electrochemical/photo catalysis are routes to alternative fuels. Climate change and the development of alternatives to crude oil for transportation fuels will be strong drivers of policy, which are likely to persist for a long time, with indeterminate relative weights. Part of the motivation for including these topics is the vision that advancing new technologies could eventually make it feasible for CCS to occur in a single process, rather than the current three-step sequence of capture, compression, and storage.
A broad range of disciplines within engineering and science are required to implement or improve carbon capture technologies. The text will benefit scientists and engineers active in the research and development of carbon capture technologies as well as engineers evaluating separation processes. It will serve as detailed educational material for science and engineering-focused industry personnel engaged in both carbon capture technologies and gas separation processes. Graduate and undergraduate students in chemistry and chemical engineering can also use it in the classroom examining separation processes in the context of carbon capture.
The three core chapters include many worked examples and end-of-chapter problems that test fundamental concepts – from the chemical physics associated with a given material that binds CO2, to the unit operations of the process, closely coupled by mass transfer. Carbon Capture provides a fundamental understanding of some of the critical technologies necessary to move to a more sustainable energy future.
This post expresses the views of this author and not necessarily of their organisation or the Global CCS Institute.