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Energy Department Helps Fund Six CO2 Capture Pilot Projects

The Smokestack (Codo/Flickr)U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) will help fund six projects that aim to convert captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sources into useful products such as fuel, plastics, cement, and fertilizers.  DoE will contribute $106 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, combined with $156 million in private cost sharing.

The projects were first selected in October 2009 as part of a $1.4 billion effort to capture CO2 from industrial sources for storage or follow-on use.  The teams have since performed experiments and produced preliminary designs for pilot plants to study the feasibility of capturing and using CO2 exhausted from industrial processes.  These selected projects now enter a second phase in which researchers design, construct, and operate their ideas at pilot-scale and evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of applying them commercially.

The projects selected include …

Alcoa, Inc. in Alcoa Center, Pennsylvania. will demonstrate the high efficiency conversion of flue gas CO2 into soluble bicarbonate and carbonate using an in-duct scrubber system featuring an enzyme catalyst.  The carbonate product can be used as construction fill material, soil amendments, and green fertilizer.

Novomer Inc. in Ithaca, New York will team with Albemarle Corporation and the Eastman Kodak Co., to develop a process for converting waste CO2 into a number of polycarbonate plastics for use in the packaging industry.  Novomer’s catalyst technology enables CO2 to react with petrochemical epoxides to create a family of thermoplastic polymers that contain up to 50 percent of CO2 by weight.

Touchstone Research Laboratory Ltd. in Triadelphia, West Virginia  will pilot-test an open-pond algae production technology that can capture at least 60 percent of flue gas CO2 from an industrial coal-fired source to produce biofuel and other high value co-products.  Lipids extracted from harvested algae will be converted to a bio-fuel, and an anaerobic digestion process will be developed and tested for converting residual biomass into methane.

Phycal, LLC in Highland Heights, Ohio will complete development of an integrated system in central Oahu, Hawaii designed to produce liquid biocrude fuel from microalgae cultivated with captured CO2.  The algal biocrude can be blended with other fuels for power generation or processed into a variety of renewable drop-in replacement fuels such as jet fuel and biodiesel.

Skyonic Corporation in Austin, Texas will continue developing its mineralization technology, as a potential replacement for industrial scrubbers used now in factories.  The process transforms CO2 into solid carbonate and/or bicarbonate materials — that can be safely stored above ground — while also removing sulfur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, mercury and other heavy metals from flue gas streams of industrial processes.

Calera Corporation in Los Gatos, California is developing a process that directly mineralizes CO2 in flue gas to carbonates that can be converted into useful construction materials.  Its project team will complete the design, construction, and operation of a building material production system that at smaller scales has produced carbonate-containing aggregates suitable as construction fill or partial feedstock for use in cement production.

Photo: Codo/Flickr

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