Home > Articles > Engineering

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

1.4. Future Contributions of Chemical and Bioengineering

The solution of many of the pressing problems of society for the future (e.g., global warming, clean energy, manned missions to Mars) will depend significantly on chemical and bioengineers. In order to more fully explain the role of chemical and bioengineers and to illustrate the role of chemical and bioengineers in solving society’s technical problems, we will now consider some of the issues associated with carbon dioxide capture and sequestration, which is directly related to global warming.

Because fossil fuels are less expensive and readily available, we would like to reduce the impact of burning fossil fuels for energy, but without significantly increasing the costs. Therefore, it is imperative that we develop low-cost CO2 capture and sequestration technologies that will allow us to do that.

An examination of Figure 1.1 shows the sources of CO2 emissions in the United States. What category would you attack first? Electric power generation is the number-one source. Transportation sources are widely distributed. No doubt power generation would be the most fruitful.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1. Major sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States excluding agriculture

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is viewed as having promise for a few decades as an interim measure for reducing atmospheric carbon emissions relatively quickly and sharply while allowing conventional coal-fired power plants to last their full life cycles. But the energy costs, the disposal challenges, and the fact that adding CCS to an existing plant actually boosts the overall consumption of fossil fuels (because of the increased consumption of energy to collect and sequester CO2, more power plants have to be built so that the final production of net energy is the same) all suggest that CCS is not an ultimate solution.

One interim measure under serious consideration for CCS that might allow existing conventional coal-fired power plants to keep producing until they can be phased out at the end of their full lives involves various known technologies. An existing plant could be retrofitted with an amine scrubber to capture 80% to 95% of CO2 from combustion gases; the CO2 would then be condensed into a liquid that would be transported and stored somewhere indefinitely where it could not leak into the atmosphere. If several hundreds or thousands of CCS systems were deployed globally this century, each capturing 1 to 5 metric tons of CO2 per year collectively, they could contribute between 15% and 55% of the worldwide cumulative mitigation effort.

However, the engineering challenges are significant. First, CCS is an energy-intensive process, so power plants require significantly more fuel to generate each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for consumption. Depending on the type of plant, additional fuel consumption ranges from 11% to 40% more—meaning not only in dollars, but also in additional fossil fuel that would have to be removed from the ground to provide the power for the capture and sequestration, as well as additional CO2 needing sequestration by doing so. Current carbon-separation technology can increase the price tag of producing electricity by as much as 70%. Put another way, it costs about $40 to $55 per ton of carbon dioxide. The annual U.S. output of carbon dioxide is nearly 2 billion tons, which indicates the economic scale of the problem. The U.S. Department of Energy is working on ways to reduce the expenses of separation and capture.

By far, the most cost-effective option is partnering CCS not with older plants, but with advanced coal technologies such as integrated-gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) or oxygenated-fuel (oxyfuel) technology. There is also a clear need to maximize overall energy efficiency if CCS itself is not merely going to have the effect of nearly doubling both demand for fossil fuels and the resultant CO2 emitted.

Once the CO2 has been captured as a fairly pure stream, the question is what to do with it that is economical. In view of the large quantity of CO2 that must be disposed of, disposal, to be considered a practical strategy, has to be permanent.

Any release of gas back into the atmosphere not only would negate the environmental benefits, but it could also be deadly. In large, concentrated quantities, carbon dioxide can cause asphyxiation. Researchers are fairly confident that underground storage will be safe and effective.

This technology, known as carbon sequestration, is used by energy firms as an oil-recovery tool. But in recent years, the Department of Energy has broadened its research into sequestration as a way to reduce emissions. And the energy industry has taken early steps toward using sequestration to capture emissions from power plants.

Three sequestration technologies are actively being developed: storage in saline aquifers in sandstone formations [refer to S. M. Benson and T. Surles, “Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage,” Proceed. IEEE, 94, 1795 (2006)], where the CO2 is expected to mineralize into carbonates over time; injection into deep, uneconomic coal seams; and injection into depleted or low-producing oil and natural-gas reservoirs.

Preliminary tests show that contrary to expectations, only 20% maximum of CO2 precipitates form carbonate minerals, but the majority of the CO2 dissolves in water. Trapping CO2 in minerals would be more secure, but CO2 dissolved in brine is an alternate disposal outcome.

Other suggestions for the reduction of CO2 emissions include permanent reduction in demand, chemical reaction, various solvents, use of pure O2 as the oxidant, and so on. See J. Ciferno et al., Chemical Engineering Progress, 33–41 (April, 2009), and F. Princiotta, “Mitigating Global Climate Change through Power-Generation Technology,” Chemical Engineering Progress, 24–32 (November, 2007), who have a large list of possible avenues of approach. The bottom line is that a solution for CO2 emissions reduction is not just a matter of solving technical problems but a matter of cost and environmental acceptance. Based on the nature of these challenges, it is easy to see that chemical and bioengineers will be intimately involved in these efforts to find effective solutions.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020