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Pilot Plant in the Works for Carbon Dioxide Cleansing - NYTimes.com
WHETHER streaming from the tailpipes of cars or the smokestacks of so many power plants and factories, carbon dioxide emissions keep growing around the globe.

 Now a Canadian company has developed a cleansing technology that may one day capture and remove some of this heat-trapping gas directly from the sky. And it is even possible that the gas could then be sold for industrial use.

Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with $3.5 million from Bill Gates and others, created prototypes for parts of its cleanup system in 2011 and 2012 at its plant in Calgary, Alberta. The company, which recently closed a $3 million second round of financing, plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said David Keith, its president and a Harvard professor who has long been interested in climate issues.

The carbon-capturing tools that Carbon Engineering and other companies are designing have made great strides in the last two years, said Timothy A. Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

"The technology has moved from a position where people talked about the potential and possibilities to a point where people like David Keith are testing prototype components and producing quite detailed designs and engineering plans," Dr. Fox said. "Carbon Engineering is the leading contender in this field at this moment for putting an industrial-scale machine together and getting it working."

Should the cost of capturing carbon dioxide fall low enough, the gas would have many customers, he predicted. Chief among them, he said, would be the oil industry, which buys the gas to inject into oil fields to force out extra oil. The injection has minimal risk, said Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The enhanced oil recovery industry has put tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the ground every year for decades with no problems," he said.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 05:45:59 PM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 03:18:17 AM EST
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Both articles mention the two-pronged purpose of carbon capture: 1) industrial re-use and 2) sequestering. I don't immediately see how the first can contribute effectively to mitigating carbon exhaust - to note: carbon capture should not be conflated with carbon storage. In fact, that has been the problem from the start - there is no existing business case for sequestering carbon.

Particularly the scenario as sketched in the Scientific American article, with carbon 'captured' by pulverized rocks all depends on the kinetics of the chemical reactions. As I've previously mentioned before, one fellow geology student of my year has specialized in this branch and she remains skeptical of the chances there'll be a quick fix from magnesium/calcium based mineral formation. So a serious dose of skepticism is rather warranted for this kind of experiment.

And again, if the point is to re-use the carbon in other industrial processes, this is nothing but fiddling for a mining technique to make from the carbon resource in the atmosphere a carbon reserve.

by Nomad on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 06:47:25 AM EST
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Should the cost of capturing carbon dioxide fall low enough,

Sounds like a business plan.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 03:19:04 AM EST
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