The Carbon Dioxide Dilemma

Promising Technologies and Policies

PROCEEDINGS OF A SYMPOSIUM

April 23–24, 2002

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu



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The Carbon Dioxide Dilemma Promising Technologies and Policies PROCEEDINGS OF A SYMPOSIUM April 23–24, 2002 NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Academy of Engineering Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08921-2 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-50863-0 (PDF) Copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2003 by the National Academies. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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Preface The energy future of the United States could take a number of directions, depending on international politics, technology development, the health of the economy, and life-style changes. Added to this mix are growing concerns about climate change, specifically the role in global warming of anthropogenic carbon dioxide produced from millions of sources around the globe. Today, everyone is familiar with the chart showing the dramatic rise in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, especially since 1900. Given the possible role of carbon dioxide in global warming, future controls on carbon emissions are inevitable. One way to reduce atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide is through sequestration or the safe disposal of large quantities of carbon dioxide in locations where it will not reenter the atmosphere. A group of specialists met at the National Academy of Sciences Building, under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering and the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems of the National Research Council, on April 23 and 24, 2002, to discuss ways of achieving this. The purpose of the meeting was not to find a consensus for dealing with the myriad issues associated with carbon dioxide sequestration, but to present a range of options for consideration by the scientific and engineering communities. The options discussed included ocean disposal, terrestrial disposal in geologic reservoirs, moving toward a noncarbon-based economy, and several biomass-based approaches. Market-based approaches coupled with carbon trading were also considered. However, no single policy emerged as a clear winner, and studies of the cost, effectiveness, and social impacts of all these options are ongoing.

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Approaches to carbon dioxide sequestration vary widely and involve a wide range of disciplines. The presentations reflected this diversity and represented a broad spectrum of views regarding the severity of the problem and how we should deal with it. Brad Allenby of AT&T opened the meeting with a broad, theoretical overview of the problem. Robert Socolow of Princeton University then described the situation as a century-scale problem. Socolow believes we will make several false starts toward a solution before we get it right, well after conventional carbon-based fuels have run out. The most basic approach currently under discussion is sequestration in geologic formations. Franklin Orr of Stanford University presented an introduction to this approach. The history of the use of carbon dioxide for enhanced gas and oil recovery was discussed by Gardiner Hill of BP Group. Sally Benson of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory then discussed the research and safety aspects using these techniques. The direct capture of carbon dioxide at energy-production facilities promises high levels of efficiency, especially when power plants are located near injection wells. This approach was discussed by Dale Simbeck of SFA Pacific, a consulting company, who has been studying this issue for many years from the point of view of the economics and associated carbon taxes for new energy technologies. David Hawkins of the National Resources Defense Council then made the case for the deployment of low-carbon technologies based on specific carbon-emission goals set far in the future. The next group of presentations addressed the option of ocean disposal. Peter Brewer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute described experiments with direct injection of carbon into the oceans. These experiments pointed to interesting possibilities for safe disposal. As a follow up, Ken Caldeira of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory focused on ocean fertilization, which involves adding iron to the ocean to stimulate photosynthetic activity, thus increasing the fixation of carbon dioxide. In a shift to terrestrial-based solutions, Gary Jacobs of Oak Ridge National Laboratory gave an overview of using terrestrial ecosystems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to enhance photosynthesis. This was followed by a presentation by John Kadyszewski of Winrock International on ways of measuring and monitoring terrestrial-carbon dynamics. Lowell Wood of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory then moved the discussion into space, suggesting that it might be necessary to place scattering material into space to reflect incoming radiation. This approach, although somewhat radical, might be the last step in a series of steps to address the problem. In a complete change of direction, James Lake of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory turned the discussion to nuclear energy systems that have zero carbon emissions and coproduce hydrogen through electrolysis. Howard Herzog of Massachusetts Institute of Technology then enumerated the top 10 points everyone should understand about sequestration. A

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final talk was provided by Mike Walsh of Environmental Financial Products LLC, who discussed the feasibility and recent performance of long-term carbon-trading schemes. This collection of transcribed, informal talks is intended to be an introduction to the major approaches to carbon sequestration. The positions of the speakers do not represent current government policy or a consensus of best approaches. They do reflect fairly recent thinking on the subject. Much more research will be necessary, of course, before the government and its partners in the private sector can begin to chart a course of action. All of the participants agreed that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to increase for some years to come and that humankind will have to find ways of dealing with the impacts. The scope, scale, and severity of these impacts are relatively unknown, however, and it may be several decades before the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide reaches a steady state, which will be significantly higher than it is today. Wm. A. Wulf President National Academy of Engineering Staff: Jack Fritz, Senior Program Officer Brendan Dooher, Fellow Carol R. Arenberg, Managing Editor Rebecca Weiss, Senior Project Assistant

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Contents INTRODUCTION         Global Climate Change and the Anthropogenic Earth Braden R. Allenby   3     The Century-Scale Problem of Carbon Management Robert H. Socolow   11 SEQUESTRATION IN GEOLOGIC FORMATIONS         Sequestration via Injection of Carbon Dioxide into the Deep Earth Franklin M. Orr, Jr.   17     Using Carbon Dioxide to Recover Natural Gas and Oil Gardiner Hill   23     Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Sally Benson   29 SEQUESTRATION IN THE OCEANS         Direct Injection of Carbon Dioxide into the Oceans Peter G. Brewer   43

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    The Effectiveness and Unintended Consequences of Ocean Fertilization Ken Caldeira   53 SEQUESTRATION IN TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS         Using Terrestrial Ecosystems for Carbon Sequestration Gary K. Jacobs   61     Monitoring Carbon Adsorption in the Terrestrial Ecosphere John Kadyszewski   65 ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AND ENGINEERING PROCESSES         The Forms and Costs of Carbon Sequestration and Capture from Energy Systems Dale Simbeck   73     Public Policy on Carbon Emissions from Fossil Fuels David G. Hawkins   79     Active Climate Stabilization: Practical Physics-Based Approaches to Preventing Climate Change Roderick A. Hyde, Edward Teller, Lowell L. Wood   87     Nuclear Energy: Large-Scale, Zero-Emissions Technology James A. Lake   95 ECONOMIC ISSUES         Can Emissions Trading of Carbon Dioxide Bootstrap the Transition? Michael J. Walsh   107     The Top Ten Things You Should Know about Carbon Sequestration Howard Herzog   117 APPENDIX         Biographies   125