Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Siemens Given Carbon Capture Research Funds

The United States Department of Energy will give Pittsburgh-based Siemens USA almost $9 million to research a new method of capturing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Dept. of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy James Markowsky says the grant will be used to explore the use of an amino acid solvent in carbon capture.

“You typically use a type of ammonia, which we call a mean because you change the chemistry of the ammonia slightly. Ammonia is NH3 and then you replace one of the hydrogen [atoms] with another compound and that’s a getter for CO2,” says Markowsky. “They’re trying a new approach on that capturing mechanism, using a solvent.”

Carbon capture is the process of separating carbon dioxide (CO2) from emissions of coal and oil combustion. CO2 has been tied to global warming and the degradation of the Earth’s ozone layer.

Markowsky says similar research funding will be given to companies in other states. He says all of the projects will investigate three primary methods of capturing CO2 from coal emissions: membrane separation, solvents, and solid absorbents.

The research grants total $67 million invested in ten projects.

The Assistant Secretary says the clean-coal funding is part of President Barack Obama’s effort to create a clean energy economy.

“We feel that coal is critical in this country for the foreseeable future, and that’s why we’re developing these technologies, but more importantly, globally. It’s extensively used globally,” says Markowsky.

Markowsky says as part of his financial recovery act, President Obama invested $3.4 billion into carbon capture. This resulted in the creation of eight Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plants and an interdepartmental CCS Task Force.

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