Could Carbon Capture Technology be a Long-Term Remedy for Climate Change?

ExxonMobil has announced it will invest in a company called FuelCell Energy, which is developing methods to capture carbon dioxide from emissions.

By Leah ScarpelliMay 9, 2016 10:55 am| ,

ExxonMobil has been at the center of a cloud of controversy – what did the Irving-based energy company know about global warming, and when did it know it?

Reuters reports that several state Attorneys General have been meeting with activists and environmental lawyers to discuss this very issue: specifically, claims that the oil giant knew about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change as early as 1980. ExxonMobil maintains that the information it had was inconclusive. Furthermore, the company contends that climate change is real and everyone needs to do their part.

Late last week, ExxonMobil made an announcement that raised some eyebrows. The company said they would be making a major investment in a Connecticut company called FuelCell Energy, which is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon emissions.

What exactly is carbon capture technology? Gary Rochelle is a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He says it’s a method of capturing emissions, isolating the carbon dioxide in them and storing them indefinitely.

“Basically it makes liquid carbon dioxide out of it, and then they stick that down a hole in the ground where it stays forever,” Rochelle says.

While this technology is one way to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change, there are some challenges that come with it.

“There’s no real issue of it leaking,” Rochelle says. “The major issue is in fact the cost effect. if we were doing this with a coal-fired carbon plant, it would basically increase the cost of power production by 50 to 100 percent.”

But, Rochelle says, even with the cost, it is a move in the right direction when pared with other efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“Climate change requires that we work on a number of different parallel paths – one of those is renewables, a second is carbon capture and storage, and it certainly is an important step forward,” Rochelle says. “I think we need to be doing what we would call ‘All of the above’ and this is one of all of the above.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above

Web post prepared by Alexandra Hart