Carbon capture project at Valero refinery launches

A carbon capture demonstration project in Port Arthur is now up and running, another milestone in national efforts to reduce harmful emissions from energy production.

A $400 million demonstration project to capture CO2 from one of the steam methane reformers at the Valero Port Arthur Refinery is now operation, Air Products announced Monday morning.

Pennsylvania-based Air Products specializes in atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases.

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Carbon capture and storage technology, which removes carbon dioxide from power plants and permanently stores it underground, is an emerging technology globally, but companies still struggle to make it cost-effective.

The Port Arthur project was funded partly by  a $283 million grant from the Department of Energy, through its Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage program, as part of its efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

The Department of Energy has praised the progress, saying it’s clear evidence that carbon capture has moved to “a demonstration scale that can be readily replicated and deployed into commercial practice within the industry.”

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The CO2 removal equipment was retrofitted to the steam methane reformers, which produce hydrogen to help make cleaner transportation fuel. Air Products plans to add more carbon capture equipment in a second phase of the project.

The project will capture approximately one million tons of carbon dioxide annually, Air Products said. The carbon is planned for use in an enhanced oil recovery project in Texas.

The project will assist in the recovery of 1.6 million to 3.1 million additional barrels of domestic oil annually, the Department of Energy said.