A Canadian researcher hopes to prove that by running CO2 through pulverized rock, he can both capture the greenhouse gas and sell the resulting carbonate
A researcher is about to test a technology that he says could be a breakthrough for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants, natural gas generators and other industrial facilities.
Canadian professor Guy Mercier’s answer to curbing fossil fuel emissions is literally set in stone. With $300,000 in new grant money from Carbon Management Canada, a network of academic centers, he plans to run gas emitted from a Holcim cement plant through pulverized concrete and rock.
If everything goes to plan, the resulting chemical reaction will capture 80 percent of the carbon dioxide from the tested gas stream at a lower cost than other capture methods.
In theory, the cost of capturing CO2 could head to zero, since the resulting magnesium carbonate formed from chemical reactions between cement plant emissions and rock can be sold at a profit to the wastewater and steel-making industries, Mercier said.
“This can be applied anywhere there’s a huge amount of CO2 emitted from smokestacks,” said Mercier, an environmental technology professor at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, part of the University of Quebec. He is working with researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of Melbourne on the project.
Tweaking the rock mixture would allow the work to be applied to coal, he said.
Mercier’s work fits into a growing industry focus on carbon capture and utilization, or using captured CO2 for commercial products, rather than storing it underground, where the gas holds no economic value. Earlier this year, the carbon capture industry added a “U” to the title of an annual CCS conference in Pittsburgh, making it the carbon capture, utilization and sequestration conference.