CO2 scrubber turns carbon emissions into building materials

CO2 scrubber turns carbon emissions into building materials
The CO2 collecting smokestack with Michigan Tech chemical engineering PhD student Brett Spigarelli (Photo: George Olszewski)
The CO2 collecting smokestack with Michigan Tech chemical engineering PhD student Brett Spigarelli (Photo: George Olszewski)
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The CO2 collecting smokestack with Michigan Tech chemical engineering PhD student Brett Spigarelli (Photo: George Olszewski)
The CO2 collecting smokestack with Michigan Tech chemical engineering PhD student Brett Spigarelli (Photo: George Olszewski)

Students at Michigan Technological University have designed and constructed their own mini-smokestack to showcase a new method for scrubbing carbon dioxide from emissions. The approach is similar to SkyMine technology, but instead of producing sodium bicarbonate as a byproduct, it turns captured carbon into a solid material that could have applications as a construction material.

The students are being discreet with some of the detail due to patents pending but have demonstrated a percolating 11 foot bench model. The smokestack is packed with glass beads, where a proprietary liquid drips down from the top as carbon dioxide bubbles up from the bottom. As the gas floats to the top, the CO2 is soaked up by the liquid, halving the emissions. The captured carbon reformed into a solid may then be sold and used as an construction material – the exact nature of which hasn't been revealed – with the remaining liquid recycled into the process once more.

The team is refining the smokestack design to remove even more carbon dioxide to give industry more benefit and the next step is to realize plans for a pilot plant to be built in collaboration with Carbontec Energy Corporation.

Other scrubbers can remove up to 90% of the CO2 from a smokestack, but the liquid used must be processed to strip away the carbon dioxide, which then needs to be compressed and stored. "This is a very expensive technique, which is probably why we do not see it commonly employed in industry," says PhD student Brett Spigarelli, a member of the research team.

"Industry has a problem with CO2 capture and sequestration because it is an added cost with no direct benefit to them," Komar Kawatra, Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at Michigan Tech said, "But, if it is possible for industry to both capture CO2 and produce a product from the CO2 that they can sell, then they will be much more interested. Our goal is therefore to not only capture the CO2 at the lowest possible cost, but also to manufacture useful, marketable products."

There\'s a company that is already setting up a demonstration plant that turns carbon emissions into concrete using only sea water. This takes care of the two biggest producers of carbon, coal power, and concrete. These guys have some pretty steep competition.
Michael Mantion
UMMM... tree??? CO2 > building material.. a tree.... Am I confused... I could of sworn wood came from trees and trees come from CO2 water and sunlight.
Robert in Vancouver
Environmentalists in the 1970\'s said CO2 was causing global cooling, and the northern hemisphere was going to covered with ice by the year 2010. Wrong. They lied.
Now the same guys are saying CO2 is causing global warming. According to the stories they were telling us 10 years ago, we were going to see sea levels rise and flood most coastal cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Bangkok, Singapore, etc.
Wrong again. They lied again.
Maybe it\'s time to sue some of these environmentalists for propagating and spreading illegal money making schemes, which is what their money raising campaigns are. I know this because I used to be involved in it.
If they find a way to make a profit from this without charging for the carbon sequestering I\'m all for it. But with all the proven fraud, and mistakes for the life of me I do not understand haw anyone can still believe in AGW.
Matt Rings
@Michael> So true... can\'t beat Nature for CO2 \"scrubbing\" and conversion to useful solids... just slooooooow.
I remember all the claims of global cooling too.
They\'re all guessing and making money out of our panic. Very clever, but very devious!
Jim Sadler
Global warming is a fact. Rising oceans can be easily measured. The degree to which human activity is causing that warming is not known and in a way does not matter. The fact is that we do absolutely have global warming and not doing everything we can to at least to keep from adding to global warming is suicidal. And it is not just on the industrial side where action is needed. If you live in an area that has millions of cars running think what heat a million cars can generate at any given moment. Cities are now islands of heat where the increase in heat compared to the areas surrounding the cities can be easily measured and recorded. Deliberate lowering of birth rates sufficient to lower populations all over the planet are in order. Limiting the use of internal combustion vehicles and demanding electrical supply methods that generate less heat as well as converting industry to producing less heat are in order.