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This letter report is a follow-up activity to the committee’s workshop report, published in April 2003, entitled Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products,2 and to the letter report of November 24, 2003, regarding the review of grant proposals.3

This final letter report evaluates the success of the Workshop on Novel Approaches to Carbon Management in generating novel concepts for stimulating research proposals and expands on lessons learned from the workshop effort and the proposal review.


To better understand the potential future management of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil energy sources, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) is funding a research and development (R&D) program to explore various methods of carbon management.4 These methods range from technologies that would remove and sequester carbon from the energy conversion process before it enters the atmosphere, to techniques for increasing the rate of removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Part of the FE R&D program is directed toward exploring “novel” or “revolutionary” systems concepts that could provide a significant leap ahead. Innovations in technologies that could lead to practical and cost-effective means for either reducing emissions from fossil-fueled power plants or removing CO2 from the atmosphere could have far-ranging consequences for the economies of the world and implications for climate change. Among the options already being researched throughout the world and in the FE program is the use of coal-fueled systems to produce electricity and hydrogen as an energy carrier while simultaneously sequestering any resulting CO2. Most approaches to date face problems of practicality and cost-effectiveness because of the large amounts of CO2 that would have to be managed in the longer term.

To foster the identification of “outside-the-box” or novel concepts, FE approached the NRC’s Board on Energy and Environmental Systems for assistance. It specified that the novel concepts identified should meet DOE’s objective of having some promise of achieving low cost and wide-scale use.

The Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) in conjunction with the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) formed a committee of scientists and engineers from academia and industry representing an array of technical disciplines to


The National Research Council’s Committee on Novel Approaches to the Management of Greenhouse Gases from Energy Systems held a workshop at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California, on February 12–14, 2003, and published a workshop report summarizing the ideas developed therein. That report, Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products, is available online at


The public version of the November 2003 letter report is available on-line at


The electric power and/or hydrogen production plants that are the focus of activities within DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy emit primarily the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The committee therefore focused its work on carbon management.

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