Carbon Capture and Storage: Carbon is a significant issue in the energy industry. There are two major areas of research in how to manage carbon: the storage of carbon and the use of carbon to create biofuels.
The most obvious constraint on carbon emissions arises from climate change. Burning fossil fuels accounts for about three-fourths of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted in the US. While all fossil fuels contain carbon, coal is the most carbon-intensive, putting coal at a disadvantage in a carbon-controlled world. Because electricity generation is the single largest contributor to CO2 emissions and over half of the electricity generated in the US is from coal, there is a pressing need to develop viable carbon-control technologies, which can be implemented in a practical and affordable manner.
There are three ways to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity generation. The first and best method is to use energy more efficiently to reduce our needs from fossil fuel combustion. Another way is to increase our supply from renewable, low-carbon, and carbon-free energy. The third is to separate, capture and securely store carbon dioxide (i.e., carbon sequestration).
Biomass can be converted by thermal or biological routes into various forms of energy including process heat, steam, motive power, and electricity, as well as liquid fuels, chemicals and synthesis gas. However, biomass feedstocks have economic deficiencies that we must overcome if they are to be viable. The low density and high water content of biomass makes shipping costs prohibitive in many cases, yet most subsequent refining processes require centralized facilities, where large-scale operations greatly increase process efficiencies.