When it comes to mitigating the impact of modern civilization on our planet’s environment, many scientists and engineers have been focused on ways to clean up excess carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. India-based company Carbon Clean Solutions is making headway in that area, with its unique method for turning CO2 into harmless baking powder. The method can be employed by coal-burning industries to reduce CO2 emissions and turn the waste into usable byproducts that do no harm.
Carbon Clean is putting its methods through the wringer at a coal-fired thermal power plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin in southern India. There, CO2 is captured from the boiler and used to make soda ash (sodium carbonate) which is the very same stuff housed in any baker’s pantry. Transforming the dangerous atmosphere-heating carbon emissions into harmless baking powder is no simple (or cheap) task, but Carbon Clean is pushing forward even so, and the firm is doing it without government subsidies.
The firm says this process can lock up 66,000 tons of CO2 each year from the Tuticorin plant, which is the equivalent of removing 12,674 cars from the road for the same time period or burning 6,751,435 gallons of gasoline. While many firms are still leaning on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which typically involves attempting to sink carbon underground – a process which is very expensive and has no opportunity for future profit. Carbon Clean’s method is the first large-scale example of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), wherein CO2 is essentially recycled into baking powder that can be sold off to help pay for the capture process. CCU is also slightly cheaper than CCS, costing around $30 per metric ton of CO2 captured, another item in the “pro” column for Carbon Clean.
While these efforts won’t be enough to turn coal into a sustainable industry, Carbon Clean’s technique could help fossil fuel industries greatly reduce their carbon footprints. Likewise, CCU methods of trapping CO2 could create new avenues of economic opportunity in places like India, where coal-based industry is widespread.