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Friday, January 06, 2017

Almost As Good As A Fuel Cell Car... A Coal-Fired Power Plant In India Is Turning Carbon Dioxide Into Baking Soda (technologyreview.com)

In the southern Indian city of Tuticorin, locals are unlikely to suffer from a poorly risen cake. 

That's because a coal-fired thermal power station in the area captures carbon dioxide and turns it into baking soda

Carbon capture schemes are nothing new.

 Typically, they use a solvent, such as amine, to catch carbon dioxide and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere. 

From there, the CO2 can either be stored away or used. But the Guardian reports that a system installed in the Tuticorin plant uses a new proprietary solvent developed by the company Carbon Clean Solutions

The solvent is reportedly just slightly more efficient than those used conventionally, requiring a little less energy and smaller apparatus to run.

 The collected CO2 is used to create baking soda, and it claims that as much as 66,000 tons of the gas could be captured at the plant each year. 

 Like most CO2 capture technologies, CarbonClean's method uses a solvent that traps the CO2 and converts it into a more inert form. 

The most common industrial solvent is amine, while CarbonClean's solvent is a new chemical that is slightly more efficient at capturing CO2. 

It's also cheaper and less corrosive, while the required machinery is smaller and cheaper to build.

Its operators say that the marginal gain in efficiency is just enough to make it feasible to run the plant without a subsidy.

 In fact, it's claimed to be the first example of an unsubsidized industrial plant capturing CO2 for use. 

 "A 'climate change' project that doesn't involve taxpayer dollars? Is that even allowed?"

 Of course, carbon capture is far from an ultimate solution to climate change. Carbonclean predicts that only about 5 to 10 percent of the carbon released from coal plants can be captured using their technology. 

Still, if the world's coal plants can adopt this technology without requiring governments to subsidize it, it could dramatically reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in the future.

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