Articles | Volume 14, issue 16
Research article
25 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 25 Aug 2014

Uncertainties in assessing the environmental impact of amine emissions from a CO2 capture plant

M. Karl, N. Castell, D. Simpson, S. Solberg, J. Starrfelt, T. Svendby, S.-E. Walker, and R. F. Wright

Abstract. In this study, a new model framework that couples the atmospheric chemistry transport model system Weather Research and Forecasting–European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (WRF-EMEP) and the multimedia fugacity level III model was used to assess the environmental impact of in-air amine emissions from post-combustion carbon dioxide capture. The modelling framework was applied to a typical carbon capture plant artificially placed at Mongstad, on the west coast of Norway. The study region is characterized by high precipitation amounts, relatively few sunshine hours, predominantly westerly winds from the North Atlantic and complex topography. Mongstad can be considered as moderately polluted due to refinery activities. WRF-EMEP enables a detailed treatment of amine chemistry in addition to atmospheric transport and deposition. Deposition fluxes of WRF-EMEP simulations were used as input to the fugacity model in order to derive concentrations of nitramines and nitrosamine in lake water. Predicted concentrations of nitramines and nitrosamines in ground-level air and drinking water were found to be highly sensitive to the description of amine chemistry, especially of the night-time chemistry with the nitrate (NO3) radical. Sensitivity analysis of the fugacity model indicates that catchment characteristics and chemical degradation rates in soil and water are among the important factors controlling the fate of these compounds in lake water. The study shows that realistic emission of commonly used amines result in levels of the sum of nitrosamines and nitramines in ground-level air (0.6–10 pg m−3) and drinking water (0.04–0.25 ng L−1) below the current safety guideline for human health that is enforced by the Norwegian Environment Agency. The modelling framework developed in this study can be used to evaluate possible environmental impacts of emissions of amines from post-combustion capture in other regions of the world.

Final-revised paper