The simple separation of CO2 from natural gas by distillation would involve cryogenic temperatures at which CO2 solidifies. Most CO2 separation processes avoid this and use instead solvents that bind to CO2 molecules. For solvent regeneration, the binding process is reversed by addition of heat, lowering of pressure, or both. This adds extraneous chemicals and processes. The Controlled Freeze Zone™ brings back the simplicity and efficiency of a single step distillation process for the separation of CO2 from natural gas. Rather than avoiding the freezing of CO2, it allows it to take place, albeit in a very controlled fashion. The technology has shown the potential to more efficiently and cost-effectively separate carbon dioxide and other impurities from natural gas, and to discharge these contaminants as a high-pressure liquid stream ready for underground injection, either for enhanced oil recovery applications or for acid gas injection disposal.
Natural gas is the cleanest burning hydrocarbon fuel available and its demand is projected to rise throughout this century. ExxonMobil anticipates total global energy demand to grow 35% by 2040 relative to 20101. Greater demand for electricity accounts for more than half of this increase. The clean burning characteristics of natural gas and its increasingly competitive economics for power generation are driving its expanded use in electrical power generation. Natural gas emits up to 60 percent less CO2 than coal when generating electricity, which becomes quite significant as costs arising from greenhouse gas policies mount. ExxonMobil forecasts natural gas to emerge as the leading source of electricity generation by 2040, and to become the second largest global fuel by 2040 behind oil, displacing coal from the second spot.
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