There are two things many power plants produce that we want to decrease the amount of; carbon dioxide (CO2) and waste heat. Fortunately waste heat, in the form of low-grade steam, can be used throughout a power plant for purposes other than producing electricity, but capturing CO2 is harder to accomplish efficiently. Researchers at Rice University however have a new process for capturing the gas that uses low-grade steam, thus reducing the impact carbon capture has on the plant's output.
For decades people have been using a two-step process involving amine, which binds to CO2 and holds it until heated to high temperatures. If this exact process were applied to a power plant though, it could drive up costs by 70%-100% in part because it would take some of the plant's high-grade steam, normally used to generate electricity. What the researchers have done is re-engineered to process to use low-grade steam by putting both steps of the process in the same container.
Already the research suggests that applying this new system could reduce the power output loss from 35% to 25%, as compared to other CO2 capture systems. There is still more work to do, including further optimizing the system, so these numbers could become even better.
Source: Rice University