Climate Capture has a Long, Long Road to Relevance

November 9, 2021

Business Insider:

Framed by a backdrop of volcanoes, a semi-circle of gigantic fans in Iceland are sucking in air, super-heating it, then filtering out the carbon dioxide.

This carbon capture and storage facility, named Orca, turned on two weeks ago after more than 18 months of construction. The fans are embedded in shipping container-sized boxes, and once the carbon dioxide is separated, it gets mixed with water then travels through snaking, fat tubes deep underground, where the carbon cools and solidifies.

Through this process, Orca can trap and sequester 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — making it the largest facility of its kind in the world (though there are currently only two running).

“Think of it like a vacuum cleaner for the atmosphere,” Julio Friedmann, an energy policy researcher at Columbia University who attended the plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, told Insider. “Nothing else can do what this tech does.”

According to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon capture and storage is a necessary part of our best-case climate scenarios. But currently, facilities like Orca only negate a sliver of global emissions.

Climate scientist Peter Kalmus has done the math: “If it works, in one year it will capture three seconds worth of humanity’s CO2 emissions,” he wrote on Twitter.


25 Responses to “Climate Capture has a Long, Long Road to Relevance”

  1. ecoquant Says:

    This will only happen if the price per tonne of CO2 captured can drop below US$10. Right now, at scale, optimistic projections put it in the US$80 to US$100 per tonne range. And present costs are US$500 per tonne to nearly US$1000 per tonne.

  2. redskylite Says:

    It is estimated that one mature tree removes 48 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere, per year. So ORCA is doing the job of over 180,000 mature trees.

    How else are we going to reduce the garbage from the atmosphere, that mankind has been freely spewing into our atmosphere ?

    No it’s time to pay the piper for all those “free” years of dumping.

    Air-scrubbing machines gain momentum, but long way to go.

    “We have already emitted so many greenhouse gases at such an incredible volume and rate that CO2 removal at enormous scales is required, as well as reduction of emissions.”

    “From our rough calculation, in the region we have enough peridotite to mineralise up to 50 trillion tonnes of CO2 – almost every single emission by humankind since the industrial revolution,”

    • redskylite Says:

      Failure isn’t an option.
      Extreme hotspot: What 60C means for the Middle East

      Lasting weeks or even months, the scorching heat would be “potentially life-threatening for humans”.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        The description of the Middle East North Africa (MENA) 60°C (140°F) reminds me of all of those “dead zones” depicted in so many post-apocalyptic SF books and movies (though there was often a radioactive component). People lived underground or along the livable edges, and there were typically some bands of people that preyed on any hapless protagonist that for whatever plotline reason got caught in The Zone.

        [Yes, I have probably read way too much SF in my life.]

        • redskylite Says:

          No you did not read too much SF. I used to comb the library with a list of SF authors as a lad, there is no such thing as too much. What is happening now is more mind boggling than any Arthur C. Clarke novel (not sure about Dune). I lived and worked out in the deserts around Saudi and U.A.E for a third of my life and was amazed how the Bedouins and desert villagers could survive the cruel temperatures in the desert, just using traditional skills, knowledge and architecture then. They were strong characters and great kind people and I hate to think of them having to adapt to even higher peaks, such as prolonged 60C exposure. They helped westerners escape bad regimes from Iraq and they have not polluted the atmosphere and just don’t deserve this.

    • redskylite Says:

      Ocean’s climate change ‘buffer’ role under threat

      “It has revealed that – if global temperatures increase to levels predicted – the ocean will not be able to provide what is currently Earth’s largest long-term carbon store. ”

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    Air Carbon Capture: a false climate solution promoted by the fossil fuel industry
    Michael Barnard

    Capturing a ton of carbon takes burning gas containing half a ton of carbon. And then what about leaks? What about the continually falling EROEI of fossils, meaning the more we use the more of each cubic foot is wasted. Carbon capture is nothing but an excuse to burn more fuel and delay real action; it’s the tool of nihilistic psychopaths we have to oppose every way possible. In the end, the only way to stop the lies and delay is revolution.

  4. redskylite Says:

    We got some of the brightest working on it on land and in the oceans. Peoples lives and populations continuance will depend on it before the end of this century.

    “The process generates a low-carbon form of alkalinity using waste products from mining, water, and renewable electricity, and harvesting valuable byproducts such as hydrogen—a key ingredient to a decarbonized energy system. When added to the ocean, the alkalinity enhances the ocean’s uptake of CO₂ from the air while countering local ocean acidification. ”,000-prize-from-elon-musks-carbon-removal-competition.html

    • redskylite Says:

      “The results show that green hydrogen produced from wind power is competitive with black hydrogen, with large production levels possible at less than US$2/kg – a widely recognized threshold for cost-competitiveness.”

      • J4Zonian Says:

        The whole Hydrogen rainbow is a scam, with nothing but a lot o crude at the end. Almost all H is produced by fossil fuels; most is used to squeeze more oil out of the ground, then it escapes back into the atmosphere. H is hard to move, store, use. It’s corrosive and expensive, so it can only be useful in tiny niches (I keep being told) so it will never get cheap. It will always be outperformed in virtually every way by electricity.

        The promise of Green H is a Jedi mind trick used to get people to allow fossil fuel extraction and Black H to continue, mostly so the dominant ones can keep flying, driving, shipping, and dominating, because all that makes them feel special. That is, it feeds their narcissistic addiction to adoration.

        It’s bad for climate, bad for the biosphere, bad for equality, bad for democracy (which it would be nice to actually have some day). The most amazing part of the scam is that Manchenema and the rest of the oligarchic duopoly manage to collaborate to kill almost everything worthwhile in every bill passed and still fund all the useless and destructive things like war, mbillionaire tax breaks, nukes, fossil subsidies, carbon capture, and H.

        My first answer was apparently lost when I tried to post it, due to slow connection. I apologize if somehow it’s here and I’m duplicating it.

        • ecoquant Says:

          Actually, there are excellent technologies available for generating, storing, and moving Hydrogen right now. Heck, as a lad I built a Hydrogen-generating apparatus for electrolysis of water from household current in my parent’s kitchen.

          Professor Mark Jacobson’s book 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything has a lot of detail.

          And unlike other fuels, such as explosive methane, leaks of H2 at the surface help cool the planet. Big deployments of wind farms do that, too, whether at sea or on land, independent of their helping eliminate the need for fossil fuels.

          The physics is sophisticated, and may not be accessible by those who delight in worshipping Carbon, enthralled by the myths PR departments of Big Fossil concoct.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Having gotten so, so, so tired, after 15 years of trying to defeat utterly uncaring evil by telling the truth, and then bumping into personifications of that strategy of the insane right wing like Falsehood, using so many of exactly the same lies I started out debunking so long ago it makes me physically ill, I spontaneously decided several times to try out the techniques of Falsehood, canman et al, and just make shit up.

            It’s not in my character; I just can’t do it. And we on the left don’t have an army of sock puppets, or an entire multi-billion dollar industry, focus groups and professional lawyers and lobbyists, liars for hire, gerrymanderers and caging listers behind us, so each of us is out there on our own. Every time we take on a new Gish galloper we’re faced again with the impossible situation of having no satisfactory answer, to have to choose between ways to lose to liars. Ignoring them so readers are exposed only to the denying delayalist side? Being polite so they seem elevated to equals? Sticking only to the science? Pointing out their tactics as well as the science?

            So I’ll be going back to trying to cut off hydra heads with nail scissors, ie fact and reality.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “…I built a Hydrogen-generating apparatus for electrolysis of water from household current in my parent’s kitchen”

            WHAT? Everyone knows you can’t separate water into hydrogen and oxygen using the AC that is “household current”. Rather, if one is not careful playing such an ignorant game, one can suffer some serious injury.

            Leaks of H2 at the surface help cool the planet?
            Wind farms do that too?

            Is ecosqunt serious? Where does he get this stuff? Or is he a troll that is just playing with us?

          • ecoquant Says:

            The Hydrogen insight was from Prod Mark Jacobson of Standard in a personal correspondence. If I recall, I think he included a peer reviewed reference, so I can look it up.

            The cooling by wind turbines is an effect documented with references in Prof Jacobson”s

            100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything


            See the section on wind turbines and climate.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            What the heck are you talking about—-“wind cooling with turbines”?

          • ecoquant Says:


            AC can be used for electrolysis rather than DC. It’s just not as effective.

            There are YouTube videos available documenting this being tried.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You need to go back to school and study some science, ecosquint, as many of us here have done at the undergraduate and graduate level. Then you might understand the FACTS of electrolysis and AC vs. DC as opposed to doing your mindless looking up and citing of things that seem to contain information—-like this 1926 (??!!) piece that says nothing of relevance. Yes you can do electrolysis with AC and get a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gasses. If you want to separate the gasses so that they can be useful, you MUST use DC

          • ecoquant Says:

            I wasn’t proposing that what I did as a high school student was useful, merely that it demonstrated electrolysis. Yes, a mixture of H2 and O2. But that’s still electrolysis.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            But not electrolysis of an commercial value. And I still shake my head at how you could have killed yourself

          • ecoquant Says:


            Section 6.9.1 of 100% WWS by Mark Jacobson is called “Wind Turbine Impacts on Climate” and you can see the details there.

            “Effects of wind-powered hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on stratospheric
            ozone and global climate” in Geophysical Research Letter also by Professor Jacobson, peer reviewed and duly referenced addresses the Hydrogen in atmosphere matter. See and its supplement

          • J4Zonian Says:

            “How Green is Blue Hydrogen?”
            paper by Robert Howarth, Cornell & Mark Jacobson, Stanford

            Blue ain’t green. Even green ain’t as green as none.

            A 75 million ton sack o…
            There’s essentially no green H; it’s less than 1% of production. There’s a lot of black & gray & blue H, made by fossil fuels. Green H is an excuse to keep using fossil fuels to make black H, and the total lie of blue H, splitting methane to make H. They don’t want green H; it will compete with black H and force it out of business. Once the name is established you can say goodbye to green and say hello to the same ol’…

            H is used to refine oil, make fertilizer and other nefarious industrial purposes. Has a hugely negative EROEI.

            Black H: Produced from black coal (bituminous, anthracite)
            Brown H: Produced from brown coal (lignite)
            Gray H: methane split with steam and pressure.

            Blue H: meet the new sos, same as the old sos, now with scrubbing bubbles! Or carbon capture. Whatever. Carbon capture uses 1/2 ton of gas to remove some of the carbon from 1 ton of gas. It has the same negative EROEI as the ash-color kind (charcoal gray? smoke? battleship?) except worse.

            Green H: electrolysis of water powered by renewable electricity. Inefficient compared to just using electricity.

          • ecoquant Says:

            Yes, you can’t do all this by cracking natural gas to produce Hydrogen. However, producing Hydrogen by electrolyzing water using solar and wind energy which would be otherwise curtailed is a decent way of storing it.

            And where did you get the idea I was defending so-called “Blue Hydrogen”?

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Hydrogen gas has a value now in various applications.
          Green hydrogen, produced electrolytically from renewable energy, at the minimum is an improvement over FF-based hydrogen for the many industrial applications that use H2.

          It’s less a solution as a general-purpose fuel, and more a conversion and improvement on existing production. Also, green H2 is a form of energy storage that can be made at times of local excess RE production, especially as an alternative to building an expensive transmission line.

          I agree that FF producers hide behind green hydrogen (e.g., as a blend to dilute their natgas fuels), but that isn’t a reason to oppose green hydrogen per se.

          One aspect of H2 production to watch is any reference to existing pipelines, which seem like an attractive means to transport it, but pipelines built for hydrocarbons aren’t suitable for pure H2, so the only practical way to take advantage of them is blending.

          • ecoquant Says:

            The Jacobson 100% WWS book also mentions Hydrogen and its storage, and in a section on leakage of Hydrogen (page 256) it says:

            Once hydrogen is produced, some of it may leak. Hydrogen is a tiny molecule, much smaller than methane, so it can leak easily from pipes unless the pipes are well sealed. In a 100 percent WWS system, hydrogen will be produced in a controlled environment and mostly locally. Instead of hydrogen being produced far away and sent by pipeline, most will be produced locally after electricity is transmitted long distances. This will minimize hydrogen pipeline loss. Leaks, however, will still occur. An estimate of hydrogen leakage provided in Table 7.2 is 0.3 to 1 percent.

            (Emphasis in above is as in original.)

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    H is inefficient, difficult to transport and store, & would require another whole infrastructure. Leccy is better, batteries (and distributed generation and demand response) included.

    Defense of green hydrogen is, for all practical purposes, defense of all the other colors, and only defense of all the other colors, because those are the only ones actually happening. That’s just 1 more way the fossil fuel industry is playing you.

    However, I said nothing about what I was thinking regarding ecoquant’s intent.
    Now I will: Projecting? A little paranoia? Guilt acting up?
    Please don’t leap to conclusions.

    Hydrogen is a scam being used by fossil fuel corporations and the right wing as a way to delay the spread of EVs and perpetuate fossil fuel use, since that’s where almost all H comes from now. They have every intention of maintaining that as long as possible, decades beyond the point at which life on Earth can be saved.

    I’m told hydrogen might have some uses. I’ll reserve judgment, but hydrogen vehicles are a scam, not a rational choice. They’re not competitive in any way with EVs, and are far less efficient and are generally more expensive.
    Comparison: EVs, HVs:

    Hydrogen Cars Have 4× Annual Fuel Cost & 2–70× The Carbon Debt EVs Do
    April 26, 2019

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