Capturing carbon dioxide from exhaust in order to reduce emissions levels has seemed as difficult as rocket science. And now, some rocket science may provide a solution to the difficult problem of extracting CO2 from industrial exhausts. Rocket nozzles are being studied as part of a new approach to capturing carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of coal power plants and other heavy emissions sites. The new approach could lead to significantly lower costs for carbon sequestration.
Vapor trails are commonly formed behind jets and rockets. Water vapor in the exhaust is suddenly allowed to expand, leading to rapid cooling and condensation. By pressurizing industrial exhausts and passing them through a nozzle, the same effect can be obtained for flue gases from coal plants, cement mills, and other CO2 sources. Once released, the suddenly expanded and cooled CO2 would form into dry ice. In this form, it would be much easier for the CO2 to be collected. It could then be turned into industrial product, or put into other kinds of sequestration.
ICES (Inertial CO2 Extraction System) is an investigational project under the Department of Energy's IMPACCT (Innovative Materials & Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies) program. Researchers on the product say that use of this technology could reduce the cost for carbon capture from current levels of around an 80% premium on the base cost down to a 30% premium.
Image: ATK methane rocket engine (not directly related to the ICES project)
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