CleanTech Terms Explained: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

CleanTech Terms Explained: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

CleanTech Terms Explained: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

CleanTech Terms Explained: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Climate change is a global issue that demands our immediate attention. Every day, we hear about new technologies and solutions that can help us reduce our carbon footprint and protect our planet. One of these technologies is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – a process that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial processes and stores it safely underground. If you are new to the clean tech world, this article will help you understand the basics of CCS, its potential, and the challenges ahead.

Understanding Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) refers to a set of technologies that capture CO2 emissions from power plants, industries, and other sources, compress them, and transport them to a storage site, where they are injected deep underground into geological formations, preventing their release into the atmosphere.

What is CleanTech?

Before we dive into CCS, let's briefly explain what we mean by CleanTech. CleanTech, or Clean Technology, refers to any technology, product, or service that helps reduce environmental impact and promotes sustainability. CleanTech encompasses various sectors, such as renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, sustainable agriculture, waste management, and more. The goal of CleanTech is to create a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for everyone.

The Importance of Carbon Capture and Storage

CCS is an essential part of the CleanTech portfolio because it can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industries that are hard to decarbonize, such as cement, steel, and natural gas production. CCS can also help tackle climate change by enabling the use of fossil fuels while reducing their carbon footprint until cleaner alternatives become more widely available.

Moreover, CCS has the potential to create new jobs and economic opportunities by investing in the development and deployment of these technologies, especially in regions that rely heavily on fossil fuels.

The Science Behind CCS

Carbon capture involves separating CO2 from other flue gases, often through chemical or physical processes such as absorptions, adsorption, or membranes. Once captured, CO2 needs to be transported to the storage site, which can be onshore or offshore, and injected underground. The storage site should be carefully selected to ensure that the CO2 remains trapped and does not leak into the atmosphere or harm the environment.

It is important to note that CCS is not a silver bullet solution to climate change. It should be seen as a complementary technology to other CleanTech solutions, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. CCS can help bridge the gap between our current reliance on fossil fuels and a future powered by renewable energy.

There are several types of CCS technologies, including post-combustion, pre-combustion, and oxy-fuel combustion. Post-combustion captures CO2 from the flue gas after combustion, while pre-combustion captures CO2 before combustion by converting fossil fuels into a syngas. Oxy-fuel combustion burns fossil fuels with pure oxygen to produce a flue gas consisting mainly of CO2 and water vapor, which can be captured and stored.

One of the challenges of CCS is the cost of implementing these technologies. CCS requires significant upfront capital investment, and the cost of capturing and storing CO2 can be high. However, as the technology continues to develop and more CCS projects are deployed, the cost is expected to decrease.

Another challenge is public acceptance and trust in CCS. Some people are concerned about the safety of storing CO2 underground and the potential for leaks or environmental harm. It is important for CCS projects to have transparent communication and engagement with stakeholders to address these concerns and build trust.

In conclusion, CCS is a crucial technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change. It is a complementary solution to other CleanTech technologies and has the potential to create new jobs and economic opportunities. While there are challenges to implementing CCS, continued innovation and investment can help overcome these obstacles and make CCS a viable option for a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Types of Carbon Capture Technologies

Pre-combustion Capture

Pre-combustion capture involves capturing CO2 before the combustion process. In this process, fossil fuel is reacted with steam and oxygen to produce hydrogen and CO2. The CO2 is then captured from the hydrogen production process, and the hydrogen is used as fuel. Pre-combustion capture is often used in gasification plants that turn coal or biomass into gas.

Post-combustion Capture

Post-combustion capture involves capturing CO2 after the combustion process. In this process, flue gases from power plants are treated to remove CO2. The process is more challenging than pre-combustion capture as the CO2 concentration is much lower, typically 10-15%. However, post-combustion capture can be retrofitted into existing power plants, making it a viable option for carbon reduction.

Oxy-fuel Combustion Capture

Oxy-fuel combustion capture involves burning fossil fuels in pure oxygen to produce a flue gas composed mainly of CO2 and steam. The CO2 is then separated, and the steam is recycled for the combustion process. Oxy-fuel combustion capture is a new technology that is still in development and offers some advantage over other capture technologies.

Carbon Storage Methods

Geological Storage

Geological storage involves injecting CO2 into deep rock formations, such as saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas reservoirs. The CO2 is stored in the pores of the rock over a geological time scale, preventing its release into the atmosphere. Geological storage is currently the most widely used storage method and has been proven to be effective, safe, and permanent.

Ocean Storage

Ocean storage involves injecting CO2 into the ocean's deep waters, where it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid, which dissolves in the ocean. Ocean storage is at an experimental stage, and little is known about its long-term effects on marine ecosystems and the ocean's carbon cycle. Therefore, it is not currently a viable storage method.

Mineral Carbonation

Mineral carbonation involves reacting CO2 with naturally occurring minerals, such as olivine, to form stable carbonates. Mineral carbonation can occur naturally over geological time scales or can be accelerated through engineered processes. Mineral carbonation has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions while also producing valuable mineral products.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CCS

Benefits of Carbon Capture and Storage

The major advantage of CCS is its potential to reduce emissions from hard-to-abate industrial processes. CCS can also support the use of fossil fuels while reducing their carbon footprint, create jobs and stimulate economic growth, and enhance energy security.

Challenges and Concerns

The main challenges of CCS are related to its cost, energy and water consumption, and technical feasibility. CCS also raises concerns about the safety and long-term environmental impact of storing CO2 underground. For instance, a leakage of CO2 could lead to health hazards for nearby populations and increase the acidity of groundwater. Public perception and societal acceptance of CCS are also issues that must be addressed.


As the world continues to face the challenge of climate change, we need to explore new and innovative ways of reducing our carbon footprint. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a promising technology that can help us tackle emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industries and enable the use of fossil fuels in a cleaner way. However, to fully realize the potential of CCS, we need to overcome several technical, financial, and societal challenges, and ensure that the technology is safe and effective. The CleanTech industry has a vital role to play in developing and promoting CCS and other clean energy solutions that can help us build a cleaner and more sustainable future.