How can you reduce Carbon Emissions at your Home or Work?

Understanding Carbon Emission:


  • Carbon emission occurs due to burning of natural gases either directly (e.g. power plant, internal combustion engine of automobiles) or indirectly (e.g. use of electricity which was generated by power plants).
  • During burning (combustion) process, fuel (e.g. natural gas, LPG, petrol) reacts with oxygen in presence of fire (ignition/spark) producing lot of heat and products of reaction.
  • In a power plant this heat is used to drive gas turbine which is couple with generators to produce electricity. The exhaust gas from turbine is used to generate steam which drives steam turbine which is coupled with generator to produce more electricity. This is called combined cycle gas turbine power plant which has thermal efficiency of 55%.
  • In an automobile this heat is used by IC engines to drive the automobile
  • The reaction products formed during burning (combustion) are mainly carbon di-oxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O) along with un-burnt carbon di-oxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), NOx (N2, NO, NO2) and SOx (SO2, SO3). Combustion is never complete and generally achieves 98% combustion leading to un-burnt products.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are identified as gases that absorb infrared radiation as it is reflected from earth’s surface and re-emits radiation in all directions including earth’s surface. This results in increase of ambient temperature. Examples of GHG are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which makes up approximately 83% of GHG emissions.

Reducing Carbon Emission in Home/Office:

  • A simple way to estimate carbon emission is using excel spreadsheets prepared by GHG Protocol available here
  • A common way to reduce carbon emission is by using energy efficient devices. For example: Bulb is very inefficient as it emits only 5% of the energy it consumes as a light. Worldwide about 20% of all electricity generated is used for lighting. Replacing just one light bulb with a fluorescent lamp would save 500 pounds of coal and over ½ ton of CO2 emissions. 131 years elapsed between 1879, when Tomas Edison first demonstrated his incandescent light bulb, and 2010, when semiconductor-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are expected to have made significant inroads into general illumination.
  • Another way of reducing carbon emissions is by using renewable energy powered devices.
    For example: solar powered mobile charger, solar generator powered water pump, etc. For information on latest renewable energy power generation devices for domestic use or for use in farms/villages refer to sites such as,,,,, etc.

  • An interesting way to educate children and generate interest is by using science project games involving renewable energy such as wind, solar, water, etc.
  • Plant a tree: Think of it as the numbers of trees that would have been cut in order to create space for your house (or building floor) needs to be replenished. At one end carbon emissions are increasing and at other end man-made infrastructure is reducing number of trees which consume carbon di-oxide. Consider adding plants in your house or building to reduce this effect. However, note that this does not solve other issues such as sensitive lands where trees are required to hold the land and avoid it sweeping away with rain/high tide.
  • Convert your building or house into green building, one which can collect and re-use rain water, generate power using solar panels, etc. Refer Indian Green Building Council's (IGBC) website for information on building material and service providers.
    Refer a case study of the rainwater harvesting system installed successfully and beneficially by Sealine CHS, Khar, Mumbai in a report titled "Why is there a drought of rainwater harvesting in Mumbai" written by Janki Pandya and Rishi Aggarwal of Observer Research Foundation Mumbai. 

Reducing Carbon Emission from Automobiles:

  • Catalytic converters are used in cars which breaks down the pollution of exhaust gases using a catalyst
  • European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states. These are adopted by many other countries as well. The stages are typically referred to as Euro 1, Euro 2, Euro 3, Euro 4, Euro 5 and Euro 6 for Light Duty Vehicle standards. The corresponding series of standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles use Roman, rather than Arabic numerals (Euro I, Euro II, etc.).

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Industries:

  • This can be achieved by adopting Zero Flaring philosophy. Flaring is a process where hydrocarbon and toxic gases are burnt before releasing into atmosphere.
  • Hydrocarbon gases produced in industries must be captured using compressors / flare gas recover systems  and sent for treatment and storage
  • Hydrocarbon gases may be treated to remove water content (gas dehydration) and toxic content (e.g. amine sweetening to reduce H2S). Hydrocarbon gases can be liquefied to produce LNG, LPG and fractionated to produce further products.
  • Another recent industry trend, especially in oil and gas industry, is to explore carbon capture and storage (CCS). However, it is still considered under nascent stage and expensive. Various techniques are carbon capture during pre-combustion, post-combustion or using oxygen as fuel (instead of air). The resulting carbon di-oxide is generally scrubbed to remove impurities and then transported into deep earthen reservoirs for storage.

Reducing Carbon Emission in Global Scale:

  • This requires converting from using fossil fuels based energy to renewable environmentally friendly sources of energy. This requires large scale partnership between universities and industry to speed up the research and development of technologies, mainly focused on electricity generation and running automobiles
    • Currently the largest Wind farm based electric power generation facility is in Muppandal windfarm in Tamil Nadi which has capacity of 1500 MW
    • Currently the largest Solar (photovoltaic, PV) based electric power generation facility is in Charanka Solar Park – Charanka, Gujarat which has a capacity of 214 MW



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pankaj karnwal


This is awesome article.

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