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In Texas, a new power plant could redefine carbon capture

Enlarge (credit: Courtesy of NET Power and McDermott)

A company called NET Power has begun testing a unique demonstration power plant in La Porte, Texas, that burns natural gas but releases no emissions into the atmosphere. How can it do this? The natural gas is burned in pure oxygen rather than ambient air, and the resulting heated carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to power a turbine instead of heating steam or gas.

Although the plant does create CO2 during the course of its operations, the waste CO2 that pumps through the system is already collected and doesn’t require an additional process to scrub pollutants from flue gas like more traditional carbon capture technologies do. The mostly pure CO2 can then be sold to oil fields for use in enhanced oil recovery, or it can be used in some other way (although we haven’t quite cracked that nut yet, recent research is working on creating byproducts like carbon nanotubes from waste CO2).

If all goes well with the testing phase, it could mean a more efficient and cost-effective solution than anything that could be bolted onto an existing power plant.

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