From sea to land, China aims to trap 2mln tonnes of carbon


China has taken a major step forward in delivering carbon neutrality after launching projects to capture carbon. The projects located on land and at sea will help the country reduce the release of nearly two million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

As countries look for ways to lower carbon emissions, renewable energy has become the point of focus. Last month, Interesting Engineering reported how China's first desert-based solar and wind energy farm has operated and will power 1.5 million households with cleaner energy.

China has also invested massively in building nuclear power plants to secure non-carbon energy. Yet, its massive power demands require it to continue to use oil and coal in its energy mix. To contain the carbon released from usage, the country has now turned its focus to capturing the carbon released during its production and usage.

Carbon capture at sea

On June 1, China's first offshore carbon storage project went online. Located in the South China Sea, the project is installed at the Enping 15-1 oil platform, about 125 miles (200 km) from Shenzhen.

The carbon dioxide released from the coal fields is captured and then injected into a dome-shaped geological structure at a depth of nearly half a mile (800 m) below the sea bed.  

Deep saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas layers typically serve as subsurface storage options. These are large structures with diameters exceeding six miles (10 km). After injecting carbon dioxide into them, the gas rises to the top and is secured in the dome-shaped structure.

The single project can store up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent of planting 14 million trees.

Carbon capture on land

The China Energy Investment Corporation (China Energy) confirmed on June 2 that its  carbon capture  and storage (CCUS) facility at a coal-fired power plant in Jiangsu province had also become operational. 

The project is designed to capture 500,000 tonnes of carbon every year and is the largest CCUS facility in Asia. Globally, it is the third-largest after the ones based in the U.S. and Canada. 

The facility uses an amine absorbent that binds with the CO2 collected by thick pipelines located in the smokestacks of the coal-fired plant. The amine absorbent developed by Chinese researchers can capture one tonne of CO2 using less than 90 kW of electricity. 

When heated, the absorbent releases almost pure CO2 gas, which can be pressurized and stored in containers. Using the absorbent has also resulted in lowering re-heating energy consumption by 35%, China Energy says.

Since the carbon captured using the method has a high purity, it can be deployed for a variety of applications ranging from dry-ice applications to shielding gases for welding. The cost of producing a tonne of CO2 is around 250 yuan (US$35) and can also be used to be added to beverages like cola.

In the future, the facility plans to sell the captured CO2 to nearby regions and even export to countries like South Korea and Japan.

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