Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1177–1191 | Cite as

Renewable energy supply and carbon capture: capturing all the carbon dioxide at zero cost

  • Aart Reinier Gustaaf HeestermanEmail author


Climate change is likely to be (and is) more serious and likely to proceed much more rapidly than was previously thought. This article surveys and evaluates the technology of processing carbon dioxide and hydrogen into sustainable synthetic carbohydrate fuels and the related economics in relation to a particular route, the capture of carbon dioxide from the flue gas stream of gas burning power stations, provided the gaseous fuel is of biogenic origin. Biogenic methane is renewable and can, after combustion into carbon dioxide, via carbon capture be further processed into a range of carbohydrate fuels, or alternatively captured for final storage under carbon capture and store (CCS). It is proposed that the air intake of a power station be replaced by cooled flue gases consisting mainly of carbon dioxide, enriched with oxygen obtained by electrolysis of water. The co-produced hydrogen can then be processed further into more easily transportable and storable forms of fuel. This implies that a gas-fired power station is not so much a means of producing energy, but rather of producing pure carbon dioxide. The capture process as such is the same as the one which arises if the purpose is carbon capture and use or CCS in which case capture of CO2 from the combustion of methane from biogenic origin amounts to negative emissions. The indirect route of supplying and using energy via the production of carbohydrate fuels requires much more primary energy than the direct use of electricity does. For this reason, use of that indirect route is efficient for aviation, where the direct route of electric power is impractical. For shipping, there also is the alternative of the implicit transport of hydrogen as part of ammonia. It is assumed that the use of biogenic methane followed by processing of the captured carbon dioxide into synthetic hydrocarbon fuels is in combination with volcanic carbon hydroxide, sufficient to meet the demand for hydrocarbon fuels. Capture of carbon dioxide from biogenic methane can also be applied in the context of CCS.


Synthetic carbohydrate fuels Energy efficiency CCS Ammonia 



  1. American Chemical Society (2019) Biofuels and dead zones (IMAGE). Eureka Alert!/AAAS
  2. Barker R, Hua Y, Neville A (2016) Internal corrosion of carbon steel pipelines for dense phase CO2 transport in carbon capture and storage (CCS)—a review. Int Mater Rev 62(1):1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bevis M, Harig C, Khan SA, Brown A, Simons FJ, Willis M, Fettweis X, van den Broeke MR, Madsen FB, Kendrick E, Caccamise DJII, van Dam T, Knudsen P, Nylen T (2019) Accelerating changes in ice mass within Greenland, and the ice sheet’s sensitivity to atmospheric forcing.
  4. Biello D (2008) Fertilizer runoff overwhelms streams and rivers—creating vast “Dead Zones”. The nation’s waterways are brimming with excess nitrogen from fertilizer—and plans to boost biofuel production threaten to aggravate an already serious situation.
  5. Botte GG, Benedetti L, Gonzalez J (2005) Electrolysis of ammonia: an in situ hydrogen production process.
  6. Brown T (2017) Ammonia industry “Future Ammonia Technologies: Electrochemical”.
  7. Brown T (2019a) Ammonia industry. Ammonia plant revamp to decarbonize: Yara Sluiskil.
  8. Brown T (2019b) Ammonia industry. Ammonia plant revamp to decarbonize: Yara Pilbara.
  9. Chemicals Technology/Verdict Media Limited (2019) George Olah CO2 to renewable methanol plant, Reykjanes.
  10. Clark J (2002, modified April 2013, Chemguide) THE HABER PROCESS.
  11. Denver C (2012) Ammonia as a hydrogen source for fuel cells: a review. In: Intech Open, Minic G (ed) Hydrogen energy: challenges and perspectives.
  12. Dudley D (2018) Renewable energy will be consistently cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020, report claims. Forbes Jan 13, 2018.
  13. Engineering Toolbox (2003a) Stoichometic combustion. Accessed 30 Jan 2019Google Scholar
  14. Engineering Toolbox (2003b) Combustion efficiency and excess air. Accessed 29 Jan 2019
  15. Engineering Toolbox (2004) Electric motor efficiency. Accessed at 29 Jan 2019
  16. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency -United States) (2017) Global greenhouse gas emissions data.
  17. Evening Standard (2019) Australia heatwave: tens of thousands without power as air conditioning systems are cranked up to cope with 44 °C heat.
  18. Foran C (2016) Donald Trump and the Triumph of Climate-Change Denial.
  19. Fox P (2018) Spark energy ceases trading. Dyball.
  20. Friends of the Earth (UK) (2007) Anaerobic Digestion (Briefing).
  21. Fröhlingsdorf M (2011) Public resistance grows to new ‘Monster’ power masts (Spiegel Online).
  22. Götz M, Lefebvre J, Friedemann M, McDanielKoch A, Graf F, Bajohr S, Reimert R, Kolb T (2016) Renewable power-to-gas: a technological and economic review. Renew Energy 85:1371–1390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gregoire LJ, Payne AJ, Valdes PJ (2012) Deglacial rapid sea level rises caused by ice-sheet saddle collapses. Nature 11:219–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heesterman ARG (2017) The pace and practicality of decarbonization. Clean Technol Energy Policy 19(2):295–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heesterman ARG (2018) Synthetic carbohydrate compounds and their integration with renewable electricity supplies: it is a sustainable approach towards containing catastrophic climate change. Clean Technol Environ Policy Issue 4:771–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heesterman ARG, Heesterman W (2013) Rediscovering sustainability: economics of the finite Earth Gower 2013Google Scholar
  27. Hunt T (2015) Is there enough lithium to maintain the growth of the lithium-ion battery market?
  28. IEA (International Energy Agency) (2018) Global energy and CO2 status report—2017.
  29. Ingram A (2014) Toyota gasoline engine achieves thermal efficiency of 38 percent. Green Car Reports.
  30. Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2013) GLOBAL FOODWASTE NOT, WANT NOT.
  31. Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2019) ENVIRONMENT THEME.
  32. Iora P, Chiesa P (2009) High efficiency process for the production of pure oxygen based on solid oxide fuel cell–solid oxide electrolyzer technology. J Power Sources 190(2):408–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johnson GE, Decker WA, Forney J (1968) Field JH (1968) Hydrogen cyanide produced from coal and ammonia. Ind Eng Chem Process Des Dev 7(1):137–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Keen M, Parry I, Strand J, (2014) The (non-) taxation of international aviation and maritime fuels: anomalies and possibilities. Centre for European Policy Research.
  35. Lampton C (2018) How regenerative braking works. HowStuffWorks.
  36. Leahy S (2019) Greenland’s ice is melting four times faster than we thought—what it means.
  37. Lee H-J (2010) Optimization of Fischer-Tropsch plant. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Manchester.
  38. IGP Methanol (2018) Another step forward for marine methanol use:
  39. Milankovitch M (1930) Mathematische Klimalehre, Berlin. Kraus Reprint, Nendeln/LiechtensteinGoogle Scholar
  40. Modak JM (2002) Haber process for ammonia synthesis. Resonance 7(9):69–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nissan (2018) “New Nissan Leaf” (range and charging).
  42. OFGEM (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) (2018)About the RE.
  43. Olah GA (2005) Beyond oil and gas: the methanol economy. In: Angewannte Chemie international edition 25 April 2005. (abstract, Wiley online library), (full text)
  44. Olah GA, Surya Prakash GK, Goeppert (2009) J Org Chem 74(2):487–498.
  45. Poland at Sea (2015) Stena Germanica converted to run on methanol.
  46. Schaaf T, Grünig J, Schuster MR, Rothenfluh T, Orth A (2014) Methanation of CO2—storage of renewable energy in a gas distribution system. Energy Sustain Soc 4:2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schiffer and Manthiram (2017) Electrification and decarbonization of the chemical industry. Joule (Cell) 1(1):10–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Scientific Advice Mechanism (European Union) (2018) Novel carbon capture and utilization technologies
  49. Scottish Power (2018) We’d like to welcome customers from extra energy.
  50. Service RF(2018) Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon. Science.
  51. The Guardian (2013) Almost half of the world’s food is thrown away, reports finds.
  52. US Department of Energy (2015) Using natural gas for vehicles: comparing three technologies.
  53. USGS (United States Geological Survey) (2001) Mercury in U.S. coal—abundance, distribution, and modes of occurrence.
  54. Valera-Medina AX, Owen-Jones H, David M, WIF, Bown PJ (2018) “Ammonia for Power” progress in energy and combustion science, volume 69, pp 63–102.
  55. Vitse F, Cooper M, Botte G (2005) On the use of ammonia electrolysis for hydrogen production. J Power Sour 142(1–2):18–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wikipedia (2018a) Atmosphere of earth.
  57. Wikipedia (2018b) “Carbon dioxide (datapage)” (used in table)
  58. Wikipedia (2018c): “Fischer–Tropsch process”–Tropsch_process
  59. Wikipedia (2018d): “Carbon-neutral fuel”
  60. Wikipedia (2018e): “Haber Process”
  61. Wikipedia (2018 g) “Fuel Tax”
  62. Wikipedia (2019a): “Natural gas”
  63. Woodbank Communications Ltd (2005) Gas turbine power plants.
  64. World Nuclear Association (2018) ‘Clean Coal’ technologies, carbon capture & sequestration.
  65. Xiang Y (2018) Corrosion issues of carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Mater Perform.
  66. Zoë R (2015) Icelandic methanol plant triples production. Iceland Rev.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations