Post combustion capture (PCC) of CO2 using amine solvent scrubbing is the most mature technology that could be used for existing power stations.
Air emissions from power plants must be compatible with the environment to be a long-term viable solution. Since the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants will require the application of new technologies, emissions from these technologies must be understood.
This change in power generation technology will inevitably require changes in the way power plants are approved, regulated and monitored. The environmental performance of solvents will impact their commercial and environmental viability.
Post combustion capture (PCC) of CO2 using amine solvent scrubbing is the most mature technology that could be used for existing power stations. However, amine-based PCC technology has the potential to emit toxic organic compounds whose environmental and health impacts must be assessed prior to regulatory approval.
In this study a modelling framework for undertaking a risk assessment for population exposure to formaldehyde is described. The modelled results showed that after installing PCC technology there may be an increase in overall atmospheric concentrations of formaldehyde – however in all cases the increased risks to the population of exposure were below the USEPA response level such that no action would be required to reduce exposures. The ambient concentrations of formaldehyde would need to increase by a factor of approximately fifty times to bring it to the levels at which the USEPA would require action. The dispersion calculations also show that maximum-modelled concentrations of MEA do not exceed health guidelines.
In summary, the implications of the increased regulatory focus on the environment for the traditional environmental issues associated with coal use in CCS will be profound. This study forms a solid foundation for environmental risk assessments, and more particularly information on formaldehyde and MEA emissions from a Post- Combustion Capture plant on a traditional coal fired power plant.