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Sequestering CO 2 in Houston By: Lisa Cox, Meghan Forester, Jacob Hedden, Jennifer Scroggin, Thomas Smith Capstone Design Project- University of Oklahoma - Spring 2003 Since the Industrial Revolution, escalating carbon dioxide emissions have been the concern of many environmentalist groups. The issue of reducing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide has become increasingly significant since carbon dioxide has been identified as a major contributor to the Greenhouse Effect and global warming. The major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide is fossil fuel combustion, power plants being a significant contributor. One possible solution to the problem is sequestration of carbon dioxide. Sequestration is the capturing and storing of carbon dioxide in order to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. This project evaluates options for separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas, transportation of the carbon dioxide to an intermediate collection point and ultimately to the sequestration site, selection of an appropriate sequestration site, and the economic implications of these types of changes on power plants and their consumers from the perspective of a governmental regulatory agency. Harris County, Texas (Houston area) was chosen for this study due to its high concentration of power plants and the availability of multiple sequestration options. The lack of regulation on existing carbon dioxide emissions has given rise to taking a governmental perspective; the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, a document that would require a 12% reduction in all carbon dioxide emissions, has generated diplomatic pressure on the U.S. to implement some form of regulating its contribution to the current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Separation Methods Separation of CO 2 from flue gas emissions is necessary to preserve the efficiency of the process of sequestration. Since flue gas contains only 4% carbon dioxide by weight, compression and sequestration of all components would be economically infeasible. Coupled with possible physical difficulties, this necessitates the use of some method of separation. Although there are several possible methods of separating CO 2 from flue gas, only three were considered for the purposes of this project. Other methods were eliminated on the basis of projected energy requirements. 1 Absorption in a packed tower, oxygen-enriched fuel firing, and reaction with calcium hydroxide were investigated for the power plants in Harris County. Absorption in a packed tower is a common method of separating mixtures of gases. A common solvent for CO 2 removal is monoethanolamine (MEA), which has a relatively high affinity for CO 2 at moderate temperatures (70 F). The absorption can easily be reversed by addition of heat to obtain a pure CO 2 /H 2 0 stream. The equipment required for this process is commercially available as a single unit from Wittemann Carbon Dioxide Equipment 2 , with prices ranging from $0.5 - $10 million for flow rates of 250 – 1,500 kilograms of flue gas per hour.
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2011 for the course CHE 4273 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '10 term at Oklahoma State.

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