While the U.S. was the leader in CO2 emissions for
a single nation for the better part of a century, China recently surpassed the world in emissions. In fact, between now and
2030, Chinese emissions are expected to double as the country continues its
path of rampant industrialization.
China chiefly uses coal as its fuel source as it has rich coal resources.
It burns the coal in power plants, in a process that typically emits massive
amounts of carbon dioxide. U.S. plants have various scrubbers and filters
to take out other carbon based compounds, such as phenols, many of which are
carcinogenic. Many of China's plants lack these technologies, leading to
a two-fold problem -- rising emissions and rising airborne toxins.
Britain, who has had a long and tumultuous relationship with China over the
years, now is turning to this familiar land to try to aid a helping
hand. Engineers with British Geological Survey (BGS) attended the
launch of the Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC) Phase 1 study in Beijing, China
last week, a study which aims to implement explore new technologies to capture
virtually all the carbon pollution from coal burning plants in China.
The process used is called carbon capture and storage (CCS), and with it China
looks to make good on the pledge it made at an EU-China Summit in September
2005. China has pledged to develop and implement a large scale Near Zero
Emissions Coal demonstration. In order to achieve this goal, China is
teaming up with the British scientists of the BGS.
Dr. Nick Riley MBE, Head of Science for Energy at BGS, was enthusiastic about
the work commenting, "CCS offers the opportunity to reduce emissions per
unit of electricity by 85 - 90%. Large-scale deployment of CCS in China has
potential to significantly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions".
The Chinese will utilize the BGS's specialties to help find and map
strategically sedimentary basins that could possibly be used as CO2 storage
grounds. These regions will undergo geocapacity testing (assessments of
how much can be stored). The next step is to pick the best locations and
put them through an even more thorough analysis and then utilize these sites in
the demonstration system.
China's NZEC program is funded by Britain, through Defra, Britain's agriculture
and food department, and DBERR, Britain's business regulatory department. It is
coordinated by AEA Energy & Environment (UK) and ACCA21 (China).
Perhaps the BGS and China should look at storing the CO2 not on
land, but in the sea. New American research from Harvard University,
detailed at DailyTech looks to use sand in a CCS process which stores CO2
highly effectively in the sea.
The problem of industrial pollution and carbon emissions certainly remains a
thorny issue, but many will be pleased to see China make serious efforts to
work towards meeting or even beating international pollution standards.