• CCS for bioethanol production may be profitable, spurring development of the technology

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Carnegie Institution for Science, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Stanford University have calculated that there may be commercially viable opportunities in the US for capturing the storing carbon dioxide from bioethanol production. Fermentation of corn to produce ethanol creates CO2 in a purity (~99%) that does not require separation, making it in the first place a good candidate for CCS – the researchers estimate that 60% of carbon emissions could be captured for under US$25/tonne (€21/tonne). To transport and sequester that more economically-captured gas would cost an additional amount of about US$35, making the total to capture and store around US$60/tonne (€50/tonne). With newly revised US tax credits of US$50/tonne of stored CO2 (and US$30/tonne captured and utilised CO2), and the possibility in some states of additional credits or subsidies for low carbon fuels, the economic picture has the potential of becoming an attractive one. The result could be negative carbon emissions, even if bioethanol production itself is not entirely carbon neutral. While not quite in the realm of industrial combustion, the research is interesting because it shows the economic step change the new CCS tax credits make in the US, and more deployment of CCS facilities will reduce costs for the technology regardless of the industry in which it is applied.