Factly News articles for December 28, 2020

16 min read

Carbon capture technology not on track to reduce CO2 emissions

News: According to a report by the International Energy Agency(IEA), progress on carbon capture and storage(CCS) technology from 2010-2020 was not on track to effectively control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve net zero emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.

Facts:

What is CCUS? CCUS technology is designed to capture CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. It can absorb 85-95% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

What is the process?

  • The process starts with the capture of generated CO2 which undergoes a compression process to form a dense fluid. This eases the transport and storage of the captured CO2.
  • The dense fluid is transported via pipelines and then injected into an underground storage facility.Captured CO2 can also be used as a raw material in other industrial processes such as bicarbonates.

Why is CCS crucial?

  • IPCC Report: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming presents four scenarios for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius: All require CO2 removal and three involve major use of CCS.
  • Transition to Net-Zero Emissions: The cement, iron and steel and chemical sectors emit carbon due to the nature of their industrial processes and high-temperature requirements. They are among the hardest to decarbonise.CCS can facilitate a just transition by allowing industries to make sustained contributions to local economies while moving toward net-zero.
  • Production of Low Carbon Hydrogen: Enabling the production of low-carbon hydrogen at scale coal or natural gas with CCS is the cheapest way to produce low-carbon hydrogen.

Global progress on CCS

  • Absent from INDCs: CCS is absent from intended nationally determined contributions(INDCs) of most countries.Thus, it is clear that national policies have not accepted CCS as a promising technology.
  • Less CCUS Facilities: As of 2020, there were only 26 operational CCS facilities capturing around 36-40 million tonnes of carbon per year as cost on storage and transportation is one of the major bottlenecks for implementation of CCS.

Indian Government Initiative:

  • National Programme on CO2 Research:India’s Department of Science and Technology has established a national programme on CO2 storage research.
  • ACT Initiative: In August 2020, India made a call for proposals to support CCS research, development, pilot and demonstration projects.This is part of the accelerating CCS technologies(ACT) initiative.
    • ACT is an international initiative of 16 countries to facilitate the emergence of CCUS via transnational funding of projects aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted innovation and research activities.
  • Industry Charter: In September 2020, an ‘Industry Charter’ for near zero emissions by 2050 was agreed to by six Indian companies that will explore different decarbonisation measures including carbon sequestration.

E-Sampada Mobile App launched

News: Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a new Web Portal and Mobile App named “e-Sampada”.

Facts:

  • e-Sampada: It is a mobile application that provides a single window for all services including allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organisations among others.
  • Significance: This will promote ease of living for Government of India officers / Departments as all services can be availed online on a single window with a live tracking of applications.The automated processes will also minimize human intervention and will lead to greater transparency.

IFFCO gas leak: How dangerous is ammonia?

News: A major ammonia gas leakage at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited(IFFCO) unit at Prayagraj has occurred.

Facts:

  • What is Ammonia? A tri-hydroid of nitrogen(NH3), ammonia is a building block for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertiliser.
  • Source of Ammonia: It is highly soluble in water, is found in soil, air, and water; it is naturally present in the body and secreted by the kidneys to neutralise excess acid.However, it is highly diluted when in the environment and does not affect the human body to a noticeable level.
  • Acceptable Limit: The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water as per the Bureau of Indian Standards is 0.5 ppm.
  • Uses:
    • Ammonia is stored for industrial use in liquid form under high pressure or in gaseous form at low temperature.
    • Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers, and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world. More than 80% of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde.
  • How is it harmful on Human Body?
    • Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, respiratory tract to form ammonium hydroxide which is very caustic and disrupts the cell membrane lipids ultimately leading to cellular destruction.
    • If Ammonia is inhaled in excess, the gas is toxic and affects the lungs with a possibility of causing chemical pneumonitis — inflammation of the lung caused by aspirating or inhaling irritants.

UNICEF launches the COVID-19 vaccine market dashboard

News: As the designated COVAX procurement coordinator and procurement agent, UNICEF has launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard.

Facts:

  • Purpose: The dashboard is an interactive tool for countries, partners and industry to follow the developments of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 vaccine market and the efforts of the COVAX Facility to ensure fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
  • The dashboard will also provide a regularly updated overview of the global research and development pipeline, the projected production capacity, publicly announced bilateral and multilateral supply agreements as well as reported price points.

Additional Facts:

  • COVAX: It is the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator. It is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), Gavi( the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Health Organization(WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers and others.
    • COVAX is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are rapidly available worldwide to economies of all financial means.
  • ACT Accelerator: It is a framework for collaboration. It is not a decision-making body or a new organization. It was set up in response to a call from G20 Leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
    • Goal: The goal of the ACT Accelerator is to end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible by reducing COVID-19 mortality and severe disease through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled-up delivery of vaccines.

Zero-coupon bonds: Innovative govt tool to fund PSBs, keep the deficit in check

News: The government has used Zero-Coupon Bonds to recapitalize Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds valued at par.

Facts:

  • What are Traditional Zero-Coupon Bonds? These are debt security that does not pay interest but instead trades at a deep discount, rendering a profit at maturity, when the bond is redeemed for its full face value. The difference between the purchase price of a zero-coupon bond and the par value indicates the investor’s return.
  • What kind of Bonds are issued to Punjab & Sind Bank? These are non-interest bearing, non-transferable special Government of India(GOI) securities having a maturity of 10-15 years and issued specifically to Punjab & Sind Bank.
  • How are they different from traditional Zero-Coupon Bonds? Though zero-coupon, these bonds are different from traditional zero-coupon bonds on one account — as they are being issued at par, there is no interest; in previous cases, since they were issued at discount, they technically were interest bearing.

Sri Lankan police seize 20,000 kg of turmeric

News: Sri Lankan police have seized 20,000 kg of turmeric smuggled by sea, reportedly from India amid a shortage persisting since Sri Lanka banned imports to support local farmers in the pandemic year.

Facts:

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): It is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as a spice, dye, medicine, and religious maker since antiquity.
  • Significance: The spice’s color comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer. As a result, the demand for turmeric with high curcumin content has risen.
  • Climate: It requires temperatures between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.
  • Largest Producer: India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Turmeric occupies about 6% of the total area under spices and condiments in India.
  • Largest Producer State: Telangana was the leading producer of turmeric in India during 2018. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were second and third in the ranking that year.

DPIIT invites applications for National Startup Awards 2021

News: Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) has invited applications for the National Startup Awards(NSA) 2021.

Facts:

  • National Startup Awards: It was set up by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Aim: To recognize and reward outstanding Startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact.
  • Sectors: The awards for startups will be given in 49 areas classified into 15 broad sectors. The 15 sectors are Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Drinking Water, Education, and Skill Development, Energy, Enterprise Systems, Environment, FinTech, Food Processing, Health and Wellness, Industry 4.0, Security, Space, Transport and Travel.
  • Eligibility Criteria for Startups awards: Only those DPIIT recognized Startups were eligible to participate who:
    • Have a product in the market
    • Have all trade-specific registrations
    • Have no defaults in audited financial statements.