Understanding the basics

What is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)?

CCS is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) formed during power generation, like from a natural gas or industrial plant, and storing it underground so that it does not enter the atmosphere.



How does it work?

Similar to introducing low carbon fuels to a power plant, CCS can be applied to both new and existing gas power plants to decrease the emission of CO2 over the life of the plant. The CO2 is captured from the exhaust gas of the power plant post-combustion before it can be emitted to the atmosphere. The CO2 is separated from the other exhaust gas components via an advanced chemical process to achieve a high purity stream of CO2. Once captured, the CO2 is compressed to a supercritical level and transported either by ships or pipelines (the US has approximately 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines today) to a location where it can be safely stored underground. CO2 has frequently been used in the production of synthetic fuels, chemicals, and building materials. However, the demand for the CO2 for utilization is only a fraction of the potential level of capture. Therefore, the majority of CO2 captured will be sequestered in deep rock formations underground.

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Carbon capture: What it takes

Integrating carbon capture and sequestration technologies into society depends on the contribution of many focus areas. The good news is, it's already in motion. Watch our webinar to learn more.

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Frequently asked questions

Learn more about CCS and GE Vernova’s capabilities


What is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)?

CCS is the process of capturing CO2 formed at the emission source, like from a natural gas combustion or at industrial plants, followed by the transportation of the CO2, and storing it deep underground—or even utilizing it. It can be reused for many industrial processes rather than just being stored.

Want to learn more? Our “Cutting Carbon” podcast can help you explore carbon capture.

How does the capture technology work?

CO2 is extracted from the flue gas that would otherwise be emitted using a chemical with an attraction to the CO2. The CO2 is produced as a byproduct of fossil fuel power generation and industrial processes, and is captured during the post-combustion phase, but can also be captured directly from the air—this is known as Direct Air Capture (DAC).

Once it’s been captured, the CO2 is compressed and transported either by ships or pipelines. Finally, the CO2 can be stored safely far underground—or, the CO2 can be re-used. 

What technology is available today for CCS?

Existing options for capturing carbon dioxide include using liquid solvents which have an affinity towards CO2. The most mature technology option today for post-combustion capture is utilization of a chemical known as an "amine." A uniquely designed liquid amine is rained down from the top of a column and comes into contact with the exhaust gas entering from the column base. This column, known as the absorption column, allows for a selective transfer of CO2 into the solvent as the two streams pass each other. The CO2-rich liquid stream falls down the column and is then moved to a second vessel, where it is heated to drive off high purity CO2. That CO2 can then be compressed and transported to a sequestration or industrial site, and the amine gets recirculated to begin the processes again. 

Want to learn more? Our “Cutting Carbon” podcast can help you discover more about carbon capture technologies.

CO2 transportation and sequestration

Once CO2 is captured, how can it be transported?

CO2 is compressed to the appropriate pressure on site and then transported via truck, train, ship, and pipeline to a final sequestration site or repurposing location. Pipeline transport is the lowest cost option for significant volumes of CO2 and allows for the smooth incorporation into the existing global infrastructure—and there are already 5,000 miles (~8,000km) of CO2 pipelines globally. The continued investment into expanding the pipeline network globally would promote the proliferation of CCS technology and enable power generation sites to reach even distant geologic resources for sequestration or industrial sites for repurpose. 

Is it safe to store CO2 underground?

The techniques, tools, and geologies for the safe and successful storage of CO2 underground are well-studied and matured out of the oil & gas industry. There is very strong evidence that we can safely store CO2 underground for hundreds of millions of years, just as hydrocarbons were stored underground before being intentionally extracted by humans. Over time, the CO2 becomes more and more dense, bonding with the porous rock layers to form carbonate rock and capturing it underground in perpetuity. 

Want to learn more? We have a “Cutting Carbon” podcast episode all about storage.

Can CO2 injection underground cause increased seismic activity or groundwater contamination?

The water table exists globally at between 100-300 ft (30-90 m) beneath the earth’s surface and is much higher than the injection location for CO2 at between 5,000-15,000 ft (1,524-4,572 m) beneath the earth’s surface. The geologic layers of porous and non-porous rock that separate the two zones eliminate safety considerations surrounding ground water contamination by captured CO2. The depth of injection of CO2 is such that no surface seismic activity would be registered on the surface. In reality, the pressure that builds in the rock formations over time would be mitigated with the structured injection technology and the rock formations stabilized as they are more comfortably redistributed. Fluid disposal technology is extremely mature and the injection of CO2 is not unique in terms of increasing seismic activity.


Is CCS a cost competitive decarbonization technology?

As both global emissions prices soar and pledges of decarbonization become more aggressive, the cost of adding a carbon capture system to any CO2-emitting asset becomes a viable technological pathway. Though often labeled as overly expensive and unnecessary, this holds true under circumstances where CO2 emissions may continue unabated. However, with the transition to a decarbonized future across multiple sectors, this is no longer the case. In fact, given the proper market structures and regulatory frameworks that already exist in certain regions, CCS is economical today, especially compared to alternatives to decarbonize thermal assets.


Can CCS be applied to existing assets?

Yes, post-combustion carbon capture can be installed on both new and existing CO2 producing assets. For example, let’s consider retrofitting existing plants. The retrofit strategy helps de-risk both current and future carbon regulations that impact the decision to operate or build a gas-fired power plant today. Furthermore, retrofits can significantly extend the lifetime of operating assets, extending their economic viability and even deferring costly decommissioning expenses with forced retirements. In fact, according to the IEA, carbon capture retrofits are expected to account for 50% of all CO2 capture projects by 2050.

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