Biorecro wants to catch carbon from the air

Illustration-Daniel-AndreassonCan capture and storage of carbon from biomass such as trees and plants be a way to reduce climate change? Illustration: Daniel Andréasson.

Carbon capture and storage, CCS, is a technology which is usually spoken of as a way to take care of carbon emissions coming from the burning of fossil fuels. The idea is that for example a coal-fired power plant could capture the emissions and then bury them deep down in the ground, so that they can’t rise up in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

Now the Swedish company Biorecro has a new idea of how to use this technology: To create negative emissions, removing carbon from the air.
Instead of burying the emissions coming from fossil fuels, creating a “zero-sum game”, they want to burn trees and plants that have absorbed carbon from the atmosphere during their lifetime and bury those emission.

Biomass is already burnt in great quantities in for example pulp and paper producers, bio-fuelled power plants, ethanol plants and biogas plants. Their emissions could be stored in storages, in aquifers between 1,000 and 3,000 meters under ground.
Instead of CCS they call their technology BECCS, Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage.

Biorecro is already running a test plant in But at least with the “original” CCS idea there have been discussions about how ready it is to use and the risks involved. Is it safe it to store carbon dioxide for thousands and thousands years? Can the carbon dioxide leak out to the atmosphere again? How much energy does it take to capture and compress the carbon dioxide?
Several CCS projects around the world have been cancelled because of high costs or protests from the people living in the planned storage area.

Others point to this kind of technology as the only way of reducing the carbon dioxide concentration in the air, from about 393 parts per million today down to 350 parts per million (which is considered somewhat a safe level).

Different ways to burn carbon. The first from the left is “normal” burning of fossil fuels, where the carbon dioxide goes out into the atmosphere, creating more carbon in the air. Next one is CCS, creating a sort of “zero-sum game”, which is also the case with burning biomass that has taken up carbon from the air. The picture at the right shows BECCS, where carbon is absorbed from the air by plants and then stored. Illustration: Biorecro.

Other sustainability related news in Swedish media (in Swedish, but can be autotranslated here):
Sveriges Radio: Forest land can release more CO2 than it absorbs
Ecoprofile: “Eat nuts instead of red meat”
Svenska Dagbladet: Meeting with a vegan family: “People think we eat carrots at Friday night”

 

  • Monica-USA

    Hmmmmmmm….very interesting idea. I would be curious to see the test results when they get them about burying the carbon in the ground.

  • Anonymous

    Me too! I will keep an eye on this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simon.dittrich Simon Dittrich

    In Germany there is a very strong debate against CCS-technology by the german green party, mainly because the CCS-plants are not really very compatible with renewable energy in so far as they are not flexible in terms of their output.

    So basically this means, if you build a plant burning fossil fuels and you add CCS-technology, this plant cannot be used to compensate the variation in amounts of electrical energy provided by renewable energy sources. So apart from the objections with regard to safety, CCS-technology in the way that it is propposed at the moment is actually detrimental to a shift towards more sustainable sources of energy production.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting, I hadn’t heard this. So if you equip a fossil fuel plant with CCS, it means you can never reduce the activity of this plant..? I have no idea if this goes for BECCS, but I suppose this particular problem wouldn’t be as serious, since burning less biomass would only mean more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I think there are still quite a few questions when it comes to this technology, as with all technologies that involve the future, with all its incertainties. But it would be interesting to get some of the answers from Biorecro themselves (I have invited them to join this discussion).

  • Henrik @ Biorecro

    BECCS is already here. The first large scale plant started in November 2011 and the results indicate that the CO2 will be permanently stored in the subsurface for millions of years. The first plants injecting CO2 have been around for decades, such as the Statoil facility Sleipner in the North Sea, which started out in 1996 and has stored more than 10 million tonnes of CO2 since.
    http://sequestration.org/
    http://www.statoil.com/AnnualReport2008/en/Sustainability/Climate/Pages/5-3-2-3_SleipnerCCS.aspx
    Images courtesy of Statoil (Norway) and PCOR (US)

  • Henrik @ Biorecro

    See the comment to Monica! For more, check out biorecro.com, biorecro.se or give us a call at +46 70 712 75 69 or e-mail at info@biorecro.se

  • Henrik @ Biorecro

    With BECCS, we are removing CO2 from the atmosphere, which is important since we have already moved beyond, and need to return below, safe levels of CO2 in the atmosphere (such as 350 ppm). BECCS is in this way very different from fossil fuel CCS, which can only reduce the environmental harm caused by fossil fuels.

  • Henrik @ Biorecro

    BECCS is a technology of today. We have already the first large scale plant up and running. See http://biorecro.com/?page=beccs_projects

    The IEA (International Energy Agency) states that “Achieving lower concentration targets (450 ppm) depends significantly on the use of BECCS.” http://www.oecd.org/document/16/0,3746,en_2649_37465_49082384_1_1_1_37465,00.html