Carbon Capture vs. Carbon Removal: What’s the Difference?

February 21, 2023 Welcome

carbon removal vs carbon capture

Conventional industrial manufacturing processes generate waste gases and fluids that can disrupt ecosystems with long-term impacts on climate, including global warming. Carbon elimination techniques present an effective solution to industrial emissions. This article will highlight the key differences between key carbon control technologies.

Carbon Removal vs. Carbon Capture

While there seem to be a lot of interchangeable terminologies used for carbon elimination strategies, the terms refer to different processes. For example, carbon removal and carbon capture projects both achieve the same aim of reducing the CO2 emission burden but are, by definition, entirely different processes.

Carbon Removal

Carbon removal or carbon dioxide removal refers to a process in which CO2 in the environment is collected/absorbed by naturally organic and inorganic materials and stored for long periods, often over decades or centuries. Green plants, soils, rock formations, and ocean bodies can be used to facilitate carbon removal.

The techniques and methods for achieving carbon removal are referred to as negative emission technologies.

Benefits, Impacts, and Concerns

Carbon removal is largely a natural process and therefore poses little or no risk to the delicate balance of our ecosystems. Instead, carbon removal contributes to the natural carbon cycle, which ensures the stability of our environment.

While more individuals, groups, and governments are doing their part to help mitigate the effects of carbon emissions on climate change, naturally occurring carbon removal processes have a vital role in helping achieve a zero-net emission world.

Carbon Capture

Carbon capture is an artificial process driven by carbon capture technology that utilizes chemical processes to capture and sequester carbon gases. Carbon capture processes are conducted in controlled environments using carbon sequestration equipment.

Rather than carbon emissions being naturally absorbed, gas capture equipment is used to collect CO2, which is then pumped into subterranean rock formations for storage. Examples of carbon capture techniques include using direct air capture plants, gas repurposing plants, and molecule engineering for CO2 filtration.

Benefits, Impacts, and Concerns

The increasing implementation of CCUS technology as an emission control tool is proving to be an effective tool to combat the negative impacts of global warming and climate change. However, like any artificial process, there are concerns with utilizing carbon capture technology for gas sequestration.

The captured carbon is typically pumped into natural rock formations for storage. However, these underground storage sites are not perfectly sealed spaces, and the gas pumped into them may leak along natural fault lines into nearby water bodies and soil and contaminate them.

CO2 leaks from their storage sites can alter the pH of groundwater, catalyze more rapid rock mineral dissolution, pollute water bodies, and pose serious health concerns to nearby human populations as well as plant and animal life.

To mitigate this risk, industries investing in carbon capture strategies must ensure comprehensive geological studies and risk-benefit analysis studies are conducted before deciding on storage sites for carbon gases.

carbon removal vs carbon capture

The Role of Carbon Removal and Carbon Capture in Climate Change

Both carbon removal and carbon capture are vital in mitigating the carbon emission burden from commercial and industrial processes.

Although carbon removal is a natural carbon elimination process, it takes a long time to sequester the gas. Therefore, on its own, carbon removal cannot offset the carbon emission burden.

Emissions from burning fossil fuels in energy generation plants, automobile usage, aviation, and heat generation pose a significantly increased risk of global warming. The negative impacts of these man-made processes on climate change are too enormous to be adequately tackled by carbon removal alone.

By comparison, carbon capture is a faster way to eliminate carbon dioxide from the environment and reduce its negative greenhouse gas effect. The various carbon capture technologies highlighted earlier in this article can effectively dissipate carbon dioxide generated from industrial activities and help reverse the negative trend of climate change.

While carbon capture appears to be the more effective strategy, a synergistic approach integrating natural carbon removal processes is the best way to achieve net zero emission targets.

How IFS and DXP Can Support Your Carbon Reduction Initiative

At IFS and DXP, we are committed to providing a unique experience for all our clients. We offer various types of carbon sequestration and CO2 pumping technologies guaranteed to help you achieve your emission reduction goals.

Please contact us today to learn more.


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