Print 45 comment(s) - last by Zoomer.. on Nov 5 at 10:33 PM

The smog is currently thick at times around a power plant in southwestern Japan. The plant supplies power to a major Toshiba factory and releases lots of carbon pollution, among other pollutants.  (Source: Keetsa)

Kensuke Suzuki,a Toshiba engineer, shows off his company's new carbon capture and sequestration unit. Toshiba hopes to bury its carbon emissions, despite controversy surrounding the expensive proposed solution to greenhouse gas emissions.  (Source: AFP/File/Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura)
Why solve your problems, when you can bury them

Carbon burial is a controversial technique to cut levels of atmospheric carbon-containing compounds, which are thought to be greenhouse gases.  The approach is controversial as it proposes that instead of solving the underlying problem and reducing CO2 emissions, to instead bury these gases underground.  This process is expensive and can be easily ruined by an earthquake or other seismic event, which could trigger the potentially violent release of the stored carbon gas.  Environmentalists and global warming critics alike are skeptical of the approach.

Still, some members of industry insist that it's the best way to halt global warming.  They argue that they can't make deeper cuts to their carbon footprint, so burying it is the only reasonable solution.

Among those who are looking to shoulder the large costs of carbon burial is Japan's Toshiba Corp.  Toshiba is looking to deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the Mikawa power station, a power plant that provides power for one of its main factories, located in Japan's southern Fukuoka prefecture, approximately 900 kilometres (560 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

The carbon sequestration hardware went online last month, and is trapping approximately 10 tons of carbon dioxide a month.  The waste gas from the plant is sent to a boiler where amines and other liquid solvents are mixed in, allowing the carbon dioxide to be separated.  The carbon dioxide is then compressed and stored as a liquid.

Eventually Toshiba plans on decompressing this liquid and storing it underground, but it's still trying to find a suitable site, and currently is simply stockpiling the stored carbon dioxide.  Currently the system traps 10 percent of the plant's carbon emissions, but Toshiba wants to gradually increase this until the system captures 90 percent of the plant's carbon pollution.  The system, however raises the plant costs by about 60 percent and reduces the power output by about 40 percent.

Still Japanese researchers insist that it's the only good way to solve the emissions dilemma.  States Shigeo Murai, a professor at Japan's Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, "CCS will be the only technology to reduce emissions on a grand scale.  At the same time it won't be able to reduce overall emissions on its own. It will need help from solar and wind power."

If you think that statement seems a bit contradictory, you're not the only one.  Greenpeace calls CCS a "dangerous gamble" and comments, "[CCS] pose[s] significant risks including negative health effects and damage to ecosystems (and) groundwater contamination."

Currently the method costs about 65 dollars per ton of carbon dioxide.  With world emissions at approximately 30 billion metric tons, this would mean that it would cost more than $1.95 trillion USD to capture all current emissions, and with emissions expected to rise, that figure is likely to rise up as well.

For Toshiba, though, the technology isn't just about cutting its own emissions, its about creating a saleable product.  Toshiba believes the market for CCS will reach $100B USD per year by 2020.  Toshiba plans to release CCS products by 2015, for the use of power plants.  Toshiba is also looking to use the resulting stored gas to try to force hard-to extract methane and oil deposits out of the ground.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Dumb idea
By Ammohunt on 11/3/2009 2:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
I am sorry but the idea of burying CO2 is the dumbest I have heard yet in regards to the Climate change madness. It would be much easier and cost effective to just produce less CO2; even though our current CO2 levels in the atmosphere (in my opinion) is not a big deal compared to historical amounts. News Flash the earth has been warming steadily since the last ice age!

RE: Dumb idea
By kattanna on 11/3/2009 2:15:50 PM , Rating: 5
i say we spend trillions burying it deep under the ocean. that way when we have a large earthquake or meteor impact, all the fish get to enjoy carbonated water.. just like we humans do now.

RE: Dumb idea
By MonkeyPaw on 11/3/2009 5:58:37 PM , Rating: 4
I don't know if we should wish the whole "Soda, Pop, or Coke?" argument on our ocean inhabitants.

Mmmm, Sea Cola.....

RE: Dumb idea
By Zoomer on 11/5/2009 10:33:04 PM , Rating: 3
I say they should build a nuclear power plant and be done with it. NO stupid burying of CO2, and no factory shutdowns when the wind/sun doesn't cooperate either.

Plus, it would be cheaper than either of these options.

RE: Dumb idea
By mmntech on 11/3/2009 2:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. There are some huge holes with this problem. Namely the fact that nobody's going to want this in their backyard. I doubt the greenies would be too keen on it either once the shovels hit the ground.

The sceptics desperately need to start getting more organized to fight this. We badly need an anti-Greenpeace.

RE: Dumb idea
By mcnabney on 11/3/2009 2:38:59 PM , Rating: 5
The problem is that there is no middle ground. We have the choice of 'do nothing different' from the Right and a wide range of ideas from dubious to stupid on the Left. In the middle are ideas like more nukes and shifting to non-fossil fuels. The middle gets ignored, as always.

The problem is that the anti-Greenpeace idea you have would be made up of a bunch of know-nothing political hacks. We need change, intelligent change, from the middle. And save the stupid for Hannah Montana.

RE: Dumb idea
By Mitch101 on 11/3/2009 3:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
Is it too hard to make Power Plants that generate electricity using Biodiesel/ethanol based engines instead of coal based turbines?

RE: Dumb idea
By zozzlhandler on 11/3/2009 3:16:33 PM , Rating: 1
And using biodiesel or ethanol would reduce CO2 emmissions how?

However, I cannot see current levels of CO2 as a problem, but for the sake of those who do, maybe we should study the situation. But rushing in making expensive systems to sequester carbon is ridiculous. We don't understand planetary systems. Our computer models do not predict correctly; many of them predict the opposite of what is observed to happen.

More CO2 means faster plant growth which means more food. I cannot see that as bad.

RE: Dumb idea
By AstroGuardian on 11/3/2009 10:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
That's crazy. Are you a lunatic? How did you get that idea?
Plants have no capability of developing proportionally to CO2 increase. On the other hand, humans annihilate huge amounts of forest weekly, not mentioning monthly or per year.

Look at this this way: More CO2, more heat, less inland humidity, less water, less plants. Your idea is good but in the opposite way. Think about it.

RE: Dumb idea
By menace on 11/3/2009 3:33:50 PM , Rating: 2
You can make steam to turn turbines from most any sufficient heat source, that's not a problem. But we can't even make enough bio-D & ethanol fuels to use for cars to offset petroleum imports, which is the most logical use for those fuels in the near future. I believe to replace coal burning for electric power it would take something like five times the amount of fuel as it would require to replace all vehicle fuels.

RE: Dumb idea
By AstroGuardian on 11/3/2009 10:59:17 PM , Rating: 1
Everything that burns, creates CO2. Think of something else :)

RE: Dumb idea
By The0ne on 11/3/2009 4:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
China might take it, other growing and poor countries will too; that is if you pay them enough they will gladly take them :)

RE: Dumb idea
By rcc on 11/3/2009 4:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
My part of the Right says build more Nuke power plants.

But, it really doen't matter what we do to clean up power generation, the extreme environmentalists will not be happy. Their interest in reducing pollution from these sources is a very low secondary to their desire to limit the electrical power available to humanity.

RE: Dumb idea
By MrPoletski on 11/4/2009 3:26:17 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. There are some huge holes with this problem. Namely the fact that nobody's going to want this in their backyard.

There will be no problem finding places for it to be put.

Inject it into oil fields. Gas injection is very common at oil fields, it is done to increase wellhead pressure.

Anyone who thinks injecting C02 into an oil fields should know what they inject into the oil fields already.. hydrogen sulphide. Very flammable, VERY poisonous. 200ppm exposure for an hour = death, 2000ppm = instant death.

RE: Dumb idea
By seraphim1982 on 11/3/2009 2:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
Umm hello, did you know how global warming leads to an ice age?? Once the polar ice caps melt, it destroys the ocean's warm current system, which will kill a lot of oceanic life, in addition heat distributed by the ocean will cease, thus causing a new ice age.

CCS maybe be a good temporary idea till we lay off the oil and other fossil fuels.

RE: Dumb idea
By zozzlhandler on 11/3/2009 3:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
If CO2 sequestration might reduce (putative) global warming, then it *might* be an idea, once we understand all the consequences. But CO2 is a minor component of greenhouse gas-induced warming. Water vapor contributes far more to greenhouse gas-based warming.

So why is nobody suggesting water sequestration?

RE: Dumb idea
By kattanna on 11/3/2009 4:07:40 PM , Rating: 1
So why is nobody suggesting water sequestration?

probably because its kinda hard to make up headlines about that deadly gas.. water vapor.. killing everyone without even the most ignorant on the planet flat out laughing at them.

everyone knows that CO2 can kill you from all those lame hollywood movies where some depressed person sits in the garage with the car running, trying to end their life.

with water vapor, all thats going to happen is they get wet.

not nearly as dramatic

RE: Dumb idea
By rcc on 11/3/2009 4:39:27 PM , Rating: 3
LOL, that would be CO, carbon monoxide, in the garages. But ok, whatever.

RE: Dumb idea
By zozzlhandler on 11/4/2009 12:09:58 PM , Rating: 2
I guess that will teach me not to try sarcasm in this forum.

I think the *real* reason no one has suggested water sequestration is that no politician has yet figured out how to get control of a huge pot-load of money by suggesting it...

Of course it is ridiculous. But in my opinion, so is carbon sequestration.

RE: Dumb idea
By JDHack42 on 11/3/2009 5:22:18 PM , Rating: 2
Incidents like Lake Nyos are why you don't dump CO2 into bodies of water. Makes me wonder what will happen when one of these sequestering sites rupture. How big of an area will be suffocated by 10tons of CO2? And keep in mind 10tons is just one month's worth of gas.

More on Lake Nyos:

On the brite side though, maybe it will make some pretty deep caves humanity can hide out in when the robots take over.

RE: Dumb idea
By PorreKaj on 11/4/2009 3:48:34 AM , Rating: 2
burry it ??

no, plant some more tree's and stop chopping the lungs of our planet

Thats a good deal....
By sumant19 on 11/3/2009 1:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
Currently the system traps 10 percent of the plant's carbon emissions, but Toshiba wants to gradually increase this until the system captures 90 percent of the plant's carbon pollution. The system, however raises the plant costs by about 60 percent and reduces the power output by about 40 percent.

If capturing 10% of CO2 reduces the plant output by 40%, wouldnt the power plant become functionless if they try to capture 90% of CO2..

Looking at the total cost and the possible environmental problems this doesnt look good at all.. Alternative clean fuels are the only way out.

RE: Thats a good deal....
By Motoman on 11/3/2009 1:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
...yeah, by that math the plant would have no output if they tried to capture 30% of the CO2.

I can't believe they'd honestly put it in place if it drops output by 40% already. That seems rather dense.

More nukes please.

RE: Thats a good deal....
By mcnabney on 11/3/2009 2:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
Nukes, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, wave, current

Take your pick. Odds are, one or more of these are in abundance nearby. And once we shift to the Watt we can tell OPEC and the Middle East in general to F off.

RE: Thats a good deal....
By kattanna on 11/3/2009 2:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
im sure its meant that at 90% capture that the 60/40 comes into play

RE: Thats a good deal....
By menace on 11/3/2009 3:37:24 PM , Rating: 2
Be nice if the author made that clear but I'm sure it probably said the same thing in the article he copied it from...

By curran on 11/3/2009 1:48:15 PM , Rating: 4
What does CO2 have to do with smog?

RE: ?
By theslug on 11/3/2009 2:15:45 PM , Rating: 3
Perhaps they meant smug, from all the hybrids.

By AnnihilatorX on 11/3/2009 6:59:40 PM , Rating: 2
I am neither a sceptic nor a firm believer of man made climate change, that's why I was trying to use some Mathematics to estimate which I should lean towards.

Calculation similar to the one here:

I am doing this the easy way though. There is 30 billion metric tonnes of CO2 released each year and rising.
The atmosphere has a mass of about five quintillion (5e18) kg (

That's 5e18 / 3e12 = 6 part per million of CO2 each year and increasing.
Current concentration of CO2 is 387ppm. It is known by the
According to radiative forcing formula,
increase from 387 to 387+6 = 393,

Change in temperature = lamda * 5.35 * ln(393/387) = 0.06 degrees.

This equates to about 0.06 degrees per year.
So a warming of 1 degrees per decade is feasible if the emission raises each year. Slightly less than 0.6 degrees in 10 years if emission stays the same (due to decreasing effect of ln on a growing C0 in equation).

So there you go, it isn't improbable. Whether man made CO2 has effect on climate all hinges on the validity of the
Radiative forcing formula. I have a feeling it isn't that far off.

By AnnihilatorX on 11/3/2009 7:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, please ignore the "It is known by the" bit

By AnnihilatorX on 11/3/2009 7:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
And by the way, if CO 2 level doubles from 397ppm, warming will be about 3 degrees.

Total waste of money.
By Ristogod on 11/3/2009 2:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
Just let the C02 out. It's not the cause of Global Warming. It's not hurting anything.

RE: Total waste of money.
By mcnabney on 11/3/2009 2:15:39 PM , Rating: 3
Technically it is. But it is a very slow moving issue. We just need to slow it down to prevent any severe consequences before we shift to new energy sources. We eased into the problem and we can ease out.

Stockpile for future terraforming projects?
By Bateluer on 11/3/2009 4:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
I hear Mars needs a thicker atmosphere . . .

By piroroadkill on 11/4/2009 4:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
Finally! A good use for an otherwise absolutely retarded idea

What about the oxygen?
By carniver on 11/3/2009 4:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
So they bury the carbon and the dioxide together, but that's burying more than what we don't want. We still need the oxygen! For every CO2 molecule we bury we lose 2 Os from the atmosphere.

RE: What about the oxygen?
By itbj2 on 11/3/2009 6:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
Are you for real?

Carbon Dioxide Kills
By autoboy on 11/3/2009 8:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
Another dumb idea with potential deadly consequences from the retarded do first prove second green movement. CO2 is heavier than air. On occasion it will leak out of the ground naturally. When it does, it flows into low level areas and replaces the oxygen where it can suffocate anyone in it's path. There's a lake that recently bubbled over with C02 and killed 1800 people. Trapping CO2 in the ground, where we don't even know the geography of the subterranean caves, is another idiotic idea that will kill more people than it will save. The law of unintended consequences will bite us in the ass yet again on this one. Don't say you weren't warned. One day truth will catch up to the global warming delusionists.

RE: Carbon Dioxide Kills
By neilrieck on 11/3/2009 10:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
CO2 pumped to a depth of 700 meters or more becomes liquid. It will stay that way unless some geothermal event occurs to bring it to the surface (unlikely but never impossible). If CO2 is pumped into any calcium structure or layer, it will combine with it and become lime. The limestone there now is CO2 and Calcium from a previous era.

By tfk11 on 11/4/2009 3:05:13 AM , Rating: 2
If they're willing to reduce the plant's power output by 40 percent then wouldn't just burning 40 percent less fuel reduce carbon emissions by a full 40 percent rather than a only a 10 percent reduction? Wouldn't this also reduce plant costs rather than increasing them?

Am I missing something?

RE: Um....
By Dephcon on 11/4/2009 10:51:18 AM , Rating: 2
How about the fact that this is a brand new first generation tech? I would assume (and hope) that they'll make (or at least intend to make)improvements on efficiency.

$100B USD per year by 2020.
By joker380 on 11/3/2009 1:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
I like how Toshiba thinks. $$$$ for shareholders

Too much stupid and PC BS here.
By mcnabney on 11/3/2009 2:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they can find some way to compat all that carbon. Perhaps in the form of a organic liquid which can be easily pumped into the ground or maybe compact it into rocks which can also be burried?


The basic science is very simple. Energy that is stored in coal, natural gas, and petroleum is released when the hydrocarbon is oxidized. That means, the point of making CO2 is where all that energy comes from. If you try to process the CO2 you are just going to use all the energy you got (and perhaps more) from creating it in the first place.

If you want to control CO2, stop releasing it from stored compounds (oil, gas, coal, tundra, disolved in seawater, large forests). Any new carbonless energy souce should be used to replace fossil fuel sources instead of losing energy trying to move carbon around.

Also, breathing and farting is carbon neutral. It came from a plant which took it out of air. And methane only lasts at most 10 years in the atmosphere before breaking down - so that really isn't a problem either.

I got an idea
By itbj2 on 11/3/2009 6:33:21 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of doing all this crap. Why not just build fast neutron nuclear power plants. The you would not have to bother with the CO2 and would could easily contain the waste.

i love the last sentence
By spepper on 11/4/2009 1:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
I LOVE the last sentence of this article:
"Toshiba is also looking to use the resulting stored gas to try to force hard-to extract methane and oil deposits out of the ground."
I can hear the howls of protest from the "hoaxer" audience now: "....WTF, they are gonna extract hydrocarbon fuel from the earth, that would produce more atmospheric C02, using C02 they buried in the first place?" Whatever DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW!

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki