Carbon Dioxide is one of the most commonly found gases on earth. Its chemical formula is CO2, meaning it is comprised of one carbon atom covalently double bounded two oxygen atoms. CO2 is incombustible, colorless, and in the typical exposure concentrations, odorless gas, that is also water soluble. Carbon dioxide is the result of oxidization of carbon.
Where is Carbon Dioxide Found?
Carbon dioxide comes from both natural and anthropogenic sources, and is necessary for all living things.
Natural: Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring compound, that is released when living organisms respire or decompose. Carbon dioxide is also naturally released into the atmosphere by the oceans, volcanos, forest fires, and carbonate rocks. Natural sources, like these, produce more carbon dioxide than anthropogenic sources.
Anthropogenic: The sources of CO2 that get the most attention are anthropogenic, meaning human-initiated or created. These sources are a part of everyday life for most people, and are unavoidable in most cases. These human activities include transportation, power and heat generation, chemical and petrochemical production and use, fossil fuel use, manufacturing, agriculture, food production, etc… The carbon dioxide produced by the harvesting and use of fossil fuels gets the most attention as a contributor to climate change. Recently, the oil and gas industries have started taking significant steps to curb their CO2 emissions.
Risks Associated with Carbon Dioxide Emissions
CO2 is considered a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are gases in the earth’s atmosphere that allow sunlight to pass through, but do not allow that heat to leave, essentially trapping heat around the planet. This heat is having a quick and catastrophic effect on the planet, changing weather patterns, warming oceans, and killing of wildlife.
Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases are also responsible for respiratory issues and health problems caused by poor air quality. Air pollution has been directly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, cancers, birth defects, asthma, and other life-threatening conditions. Prolonged exposure has also been proven to change or slow the metabolic rate of humans. Regions that experience poor air quality often face significantly higher rates of these conditions, and early deaths.
Concentrated exposure CO2 can cause dizziness, asphyxiation, confusion, fatigue, vertigo, headaches, tinnitus, and even seizures.
The Value of Carbon Dioxide:
With CO2 being so abundant, many find it shocking that it holds quite a bit of value. With dozens of incentives, markets and uses for CO2, the options available to facilities with excess CO2 can be overwhelming. Here are just a few ways Carbon Dioxide can produce value…
Amine Gas Treating or Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) is used to capture the CO2 for both Enhanced Oil Recovery and Food & Beverage grade CO2, before releasing the remaining harmless gasses (nitrogen and water vapor) into the atmosphere. The owner of the VCU can then claim the 45Q credit. 45Q is a section of the US tax code that provides a performance-based tax credit for carbon capture projects. The credits can be claimed when an eligible project has:
- Securely kept the captured CO2 in geologic formations. IE: oil fields and saline formations
- Used captured CO2 or its precursor carbon monoxide (CO) as a feedstock to produce fuels, chemicals, and products such as concrete, in a way that results in emissions reductions as defined by federal requirements.
The method in which a VCU abates gases like methane creates a recoverable CO2 that can be repurposed in multiple ways.
- Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
- Food and Beverage Grade CO2
A facility that implements a green energy program is eligible to receive carbon credits. Carbon credits can be sold or traded between participating facilities. One ton of carbon equates to a single carbon credit, which is worth between $11 and $14, depending on the market. The market for carbon credits was created to lessen the concentration of growth in the release of greenhouse gases. It works by allowing facilities to trade off the amount of emissions they are allowed to release, in a capped market. If a plant is emitting far below the allotted amount, they may sell their credits to a facility that is meeting or exceeding their allotted amount. This mean the same amount of pollution is being released in one capped area, and no one breaks regulation.
The difficult thing about carbon markets is the lack on continuity. Markets vary from region to region, and they use a number of different pricing instruments…
Carbon Market Pricing Instruments:
- Carbon Tax: Puts a direct price on emissions and requires payment for every carbon ton of pollution emitted.
- Emissions Trading Systems (ETS): Also called a cap and trade system, sets a limit (cap) of total emissions allowed in a region or sector. This design sets up a market where the rights to emit are traded.
- Results-Based Climate Finance: This setup allows organizations and facilities to receive funds when they meet pre-defined goals related to climate action, like a reduction in emissions over a certain time period.
- Credit Mechanism: Under this framework, reductions in emissions that occur as the result of a project completed by a business or government entity, are assigned credits, which can be sold or purchased.
- Internal Carbon Pricing: ICP allows governments, businesses, and other entities to assign their own price to carbon, and factor it as part of their investment and business strategy.
Taking on a CO2 project can be overwhelming. Finding the right partner for this type of project is essential. A partner should be able to handle every step of the process, including:
- Provide a cost-analysis on the project
- Counsel on potential funding opportunities
- Advise on local, state, regional, and federal regulations and incentives
- Be knowledgeable on available markets
- Provide the equipment and technologies
- Purchase or advise on buyers of recovered materials, like food and beverage carbon, and hydrogen
GCES can help facilities make sense of all these options, implement a green energy program, and guide you in the carbon credit trading market.
Gulf Coast Environmental Systems has over a century of combined experience in carbon recovery projects, and our team of experts have taken a special interest in these types of projects, since declaring our support the Zero Flaring by 2030 Initiative. If you are interested in learning more about your options in CO2 recovery, contact GCES at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832.476.9024