Posting in Energy
Cleantech startup Calera mixes carbon dioxide with seawater to produce cement. Is this marine-inspired technology the future of clean coal?
On land, coal and fire make carbon dioxide (CO2).
Calera has taken a lesson from coral. At its pilot plant in Moss Landing, California, this cleantech start-up has devised a process to treat CO2 emissions with seawater to form CaCO3, with which they make cement, a component of concrete.
On their website, Calera equates the amount of concrete comprising the Grand Coulee Dam to 7 million tons of CO2.
If feasible on a large scale, the company sees an opportunity for 100-percent-clean coal power (clean except for issues surrounding coal extraction, of course). In his column on Sunday, Thomas Friedman wrote that the large coal company Peabody is expected to announce an investment in Calera this week.
With help from Bechtel Renewables and New Technology, Calera is hoping to build more plants.
In a statement last December, Bechtel's President Ian Copeland says:
“The fundamental chemistry and physics of the Calera process are based on sound scientific principles, and its core technology and equipment can be integrated with base power plants very effectively...While there are challenges to bringing the Calera process to commercial scale, they are not as great as those facing other carbon sequestration approaches."
So far, the best bet for burning coal with little CO2 emissions is sequestering, liquefying, and injecting CO2 into underground wells. But this type of carbon sequestration, also not proven commercially, could come with a hefty price tag—and no cement to sell afterward.
Calera CEO Brent Constantz, shown in this video on Fox Business, explains that the existing relationship between cement and coal companies could support the infrastructure needed for his idea to work.
Mar 9, 2010
I have no knowledge of chemistry at all, but I could imagine carbon fibre being used for lots of things. Maybe someone with better knowledge can point out the flaw in this idea.
Looking into this further, I will answer my own question with two points: 1) I suppose the original source of the CO3 in the bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) is dissolved carbon dioxide (one source states 93% of dissolved CO2 is in form of bicarbonate ion, other 7% in form of carbonate ion). In which case, the reaction as a whole DOES consume CO2--for ever 1 molecule of CO2 produced, 2 molecules of CO2 (in the form of bicarbonate) are consumed...with the other source CO2 molecule sequestered in the form of CaCO3 2) According to Calera's patent app, they make mention of what I had talked about. But they state that under high pH conditions, dissolved CO2 is favored to exist as carbone rather than bicarbonate--in which case the precipitation reaction to form CaCO3 does NOT produce CO2.
The calcification process through which coral is created is as follows: 2HCO3- + Ca2+ --> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O (http://www.coral.noaa.gov/cleo/pdf/Carbon%20Dioxide%20background.pdf) In other words, coral and water do not turn CO2 into CaCO3--rather CO2 is produced when CaCO3 is produced. So is Calera really "taking a lesson from coral"? If that were the case, Calera would be producing CO2, not consuming it.
The limestone that was created by sea life long ago has been used to make concrete. Several small islands make a type of concrete using ground up coral. Making concrete using this material is a tried and true technology.
Hmmm. There isn't enough calcium in seawater to make this really easy. If the coal plant is inland, you'd have to pipe the flue gas miles to the ocean. But you add some calcium to ordinary brackish water, to speed things along, it could work anywhere. In the process you would capture that nasty mercury, the soot, and end up with a practical sequestration technique.
Seawater contains around 400 ppm of calcium, which is no doubt why Calera is using seawater. (Google [b]seawater+chemical+composition[/b].) How much CaCO3 this contained calcium will produce is easily calculated. Seawater also contains sodium, magnesium, and potassium chlorides. Not so good for cement, but Calera's CMAP process should be controllable to minimize the salt content of the finished product. That loud whining sound you hear? That's the current cement manufacturers kvetching about being put out of business if Calera is really successful!
Where's the calcium coming from? Burned oyster shells, perhaps? That makes as much sense as Glenn Beck telling the world he learned all about socialism from the PUBLIC library. Hello? Are you people even LOOKING at what's at the end of your fork before you eat it??
WHO BENEFITS FROM CAP & TRADE: STATUS QUO FOR OPEC Have you ever wondered how Dubai is able to afford creating man made islands off their coast? The largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world began after the 1973 oil embargo. The United States agreed to transfer jobs and technology to developing countries under INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT Algiers Declaration Algiers, March 1975. A major portion of the planned or new petrochemical complexes, oil refineries and fertilizer plants be built in the territories of OPEC Member Countries Yet America has natural gas and coal in abundance and can create good paying jobs, eliminate dependence on foreign oil and stop sending billions to countries that sponsor terrorism. Every billion in trade deficit equals 13000 jobs lost. Washington should keep money, technology and jobs in the US by reducing the trade imbalance. Global warming is not proven science. CO2 is plant food and there is no proof man is contributing in significant ways to global warming. There were ice ages and tropical periods before mankind!