Scientific dissemination articles


K. G. Boyd –  The Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College UHI, University of the Highlands and Islands, UK

pp. 83-99|  Article Number: 7
Published Online: March, 2018


The unprecedented increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 can be attributed to the added carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels. One method for preventing carbon dioxide from human activity reaching the atmosphere is carbon capture and storage (CCS). The CCS process has three distinct stages; the separation of CO2 from industrial and energy-related emission, its transportation to a suitable storage location and the long-term storage and isolation of CO2 from the atmosphere.

There are three main CCS technologies (post-combustion, pre-combustion and oxyfuel methods) which can be applied to remove from power plant emissions. Post-combustion technology can be applied to a range of CO2 emissions (such as those from power plants, natural gas purification and hydrogen production) however precombustion and oxyfuel processes are limited to the removal of CO2 resulting from combustion processes.

While the technologies for the removal of carbon dioxide are relatively well understood challenges exist in applying these to large industrial facilities. Additional challenges exist developing CO2 transportation infrastructure and identifying and exploiting suitable storage locations. Storage options include deep geological formations (exhausted oil and gas fields, saline aquifers), storage in the deep ocean or chemical conversion to stable carbon compounds (carbonation). At the present time storage in geological formations is favoured.

Despite the obvious potential of CCS its implementation to large scale emission sources has been slow. At this moment in time only 17 large-scale CCS facilities are in operation around the world; together these facilities have the capability of removing over 20 million tonnes of CO2 annually. This is the equivalent to taking more than four million passenger vehicles off our road. These facilities span the range of CO2 capture technologies and utilise different geological formations for storage. Additionally it is not only the power industries which are deploying large-scale CCS facilities and adopters include industries involved in natural gas processing, fertiliser production, steel-making, hydrogen-production, and the plastics and chemicals industry. The diversity of industries represented reflects the versatility of CCS technology. However, without taxation or legislation CCS is unlikely to be implemented on the scale required to have any appreciable impact on global atmospheric CO2 levels.


Carbon capture and storage; global atmospheric CO2 levels; CCS technology, storage of CO2; environmental impacts of CCS; direct air capture.



This scientific article was prepared as the basis for pedagogical material which is being developed by the EduCO2cean project team. The magazine articles are not intended for use as teaching material in their own right.

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