Posting in Design
Skyonic founder Joe Jones talks about how a TV program sparked an idea and ultimately led to developing tech that can capture CO2 emissions and turn it into baking soda and other products.
BP, ConocoPhillips and PVS Chemicals, along with several other investors, are throwing support and potentially up to $35 million into Skyonic, a Texas-based startup that intends to commercialize technology that can capture carbon emissions and turn it into baking soda.
Skyonic raised this week the first $9 million, funds that will be used to help pay for a $125 million commercial-scale carbon capture and mineralization project at Capitol Aggregates Inc.'s cement plant in San Antonio. Construction will begin this summer and is expected to be partially operational by 2014. Capitol Aggregates owner Zachry Corporation also is an investor in the project.
This is round of funding marks a critical step for a company that was borne out of a serendipitous night watching a Discovery Channel program about Mars.
"The program about Mars talked about carbon capture and I thought 'That's not the way to get rid of CO2,'" Skyonic CEO and President Joe Jones told me in a recent interview. The program ended. The nagging question about carbon capture did not.
Jones, a chemical engineer who worked for more than two decades in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, first took to Google and other basic research tools and found nothing related to his specific carbon capture idea. He eventually found the beginning of his answer in an old piece of research he had worked on in graduate school.
He built on his original idea, developed the technology, had it proven by an independent third party and in September 2004 filed patents, Jones said. Skyonic was founded the following year.
CO2 to baking soda
Skyonic developed its so-called Skymine technology, which can be retrofitted onto power plants or other industrial factories that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. The technology captures the CO2 from the exhaust stream and turns it into solids instead of a gas. It can then be processed into food-grade bicarbonate (baking soda) and hydrochloric acid, both of which can be sold to generate revenue and offset the carbon capture and conversion process.
The Skymine also cleans sulfur oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the flue gas and removes heavy metals such as mercury.
Skyonic designed and built a pilot project at Capitol Aggregates that captures under 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year, Jones said. The $125 million project will build the technology out to a commercial scale capable of capturing 83,000 short tons of CO2 a year and converting 157,000 tons of bicarbonate.
It costs about $45 a ton to capture and convert the carbon emissions into bicarbonate, Jones said. Those costs should be greatly offset and even eliminated with the sale of the bicarbonate and other chemicals, he added. Once the commercial-scale project at Capitol Aggregates is complete, it will be able to produce $45 million in chemicals each year, Jones said.
The business model of the endeavor hinges on a couple of factors, including the bicarbonate market and the cost of capturing the carbon. What happens, for example, if hundreds of plants outfitted with Skymine start to produce bicarbonate and HCL?
The market can absorb any additional bicarbonate or HCL production, Jones said. "HCL is in great demand right now because of the oil and gas activity here," he said. "And we're making it at a 30 percent lower cost than the traditional method." He added that Skyonic's process can produce other chemicals as well such as bleach, chlorine and hydrogen.
As for the cost of the technology, Jones said continued research and development could help drive down the cost below $20 per ton.
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Jun 26, 2012
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I just read the article in Popular Science about the activities of those who fight against global warming and their activites. Shame on them.
More environmental subsidy chasing crack-pot idea's, though not this time as crazy as barking mad Carbon capture and storage underground What's wrong with the traditional way of CO2 capture - Growing things, like say planting some f***ing tree's, or sustainable forestry of replacing what you cut down, or food production for a hungry world. Might be more inherently benefit to the world by having a global plan to push back the Sahara desert to forest, grassland or food production. -- Discussion point - the root cause of the problem is less about CO2 emissions, but the unsustainable population growth afflicting the planet. Perhaps driving global poulation down from it's current 7 billiion to 2-3 billion would have greater impact. After all, resources on the planet are not unlimited.
I wonder if there is a way to split the carbon from the oxygen. That would be good. The carbon could easily be buried, and is inert. Hey! When you burn carbon , you get CO2. Can this be done in reverse? Split them and get heat as a by-product. Now that would be good!
Yeah, and I trust the "data" that says the oceans are turning acidic about as much as I trust the data from East Anglia University that "proved" that CO2 is warming the earth. Baking soda! LOL! Now there's a storage problem! I can see the headlines, "CO2 suppressed too far, ocean alga dying due to lack of nutrient!"
if you use baking soda in food production , it will do what it is meant for by turning into CO2 again , which is released again in the atmosphere. Meaning there is no carbon capture effect at all.
This is an example of using our technologies and funding good research instead of Attorneys suing to stop all industrial progress and killing the economy. The net results of all EPA/ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT regulations and irrational rules is that jobs are forced off shore. When America offshore their pollution they also offshore the jobs and the support industries - even fast food stores are effected. Like the San Diego Fusion project which was made up of top scientists from around the world to solve the final puzzle which would proved unlimited energy that does not pollute. However, the Political class stopped the funding so they could increase social welfare spending and push E=GREEN renewable sources like wind and Solar. Science and advanced technologies are the answer not marginal at best limited production systems.24/7/365 base load energy is the item that we need to create a new value added manufacturing economy.
If it is truly less expensive than conventional production methods this should reduce the demand for the raw materials currently used for making baking soda or any of the other potential products mentioned. Overall a winning option.
Growing things is a short-term, short-depth "solution" that will not solve the problem. The reason is that anything you grow will also decay -- back to its basic compounds, including CO2 -- unless you take extra steps to make sure it doesn't. So how much wood do we really need? How much can we really use, before our society BECOMES about finding new ways to avoid letting that wood decompose? Seriously, we would eventually get to burying wood in dry salt mines, or sinking it in deep oceans past the oxygen zone. How far do you want to have to go? Just "growing things" is not a real solution. But you ARE right, that the REAL underlying problem is population growth; a "bogeyman" that will get you laughed out of any Reich Wing gathering on the planet. So far, we've done NOTHING about that at all, preferring to just note that rising standards of living tend to bring down the growth rate. Trouble is, those rising standards -- absent any lowering of population at the same time, tend to drive UP CO2 production even more.
Split carbon from oxygen? Yeah, it is called photosynthesis. A process easily done by trees, grass, but mostly alga and other plankton in the oceans. In fact if CO2 rises in the atmosphere all the plant life grows better as CO2 is a nutrient. And as they grow more vigorously they gobble up more and more CO2 releasing oxygen to the atmosphere. BTW plankton is the support of the food chain for ALL the rest of the ocean.
Do you know any oyster farmers??? I do.. and they are having serious issues with ocean acidity. The baby oyster shells keep disolving and the only way to farm them is to boost the alkalinity of the water to get the babys big and strong enough to be transplanted... Why don't you make a phone call to any oyster farmer (go ahead... call any oyster farmer you like) and they will tell you that the ocean just hit the point where it is now too acidic for oysters to breed in the wild. (now think about what this means for all shellfish)... But hey Bruce in San Jose... I'm sure you are full of qualifications that make you soooo much smarter than all those scientist who do this for a living and actually study the data... So in the future... Bruce in San Jose... When you are sitting in your favorite surf and turf restaurant and eating only turf, how bout you stand up and tell everyone there how those scientists that claim the ocean is turning acidic are full of it. (5 bucks says you get pummled with baked potatoes)
Actually, if the baking soda created this way replaces the baking soda mined from the earth, then yes it would result in reduced CO2 emissions. You would be recycling CO2 from the air instead of introducing new CO2 from the earth. But today baking soda mined from the earth is just not a major source of CO2 emissions. So my guess is that for this technique to have any major effect on CO2 levels, most of the baking soda will just be dumped somewhere since there wouldn't be a market for it.
Technically it could work itself out as a continuous cycle, similar to water cycle (rain drops to the ground, groundwater evaporates and turns into rain) Of course, it would still be a problem if the amount of CO2 being released into the air continues to stay ahead of the amount that gets turned into reusable solids.
You do realize that your first argument is that we should let industries despoil the environment here in America because China would let them, and we need the jobs? Corporations move to China because there's nearly an unlimited supply of labor working in near slave conditions for a small fraction of what American workers get paid. It has nothing to do with the EPA. The EPA is completely co-opted by industry, and it's laughable that you would blame them for anything except kissing industries' you-know-what. If the EPA had any teeth at all, they'd be enforcing the Clean Water Act. You cannot justify the pass that's been given to the coal industry regarding mountain top removal and to the gas industry regarding fracking. They should be required to obey the same laws as all the rest of us. The EPA couldn't prevent environmental pollution if our lives depended upon it. Oh wait. Our lives do depend on it! You've become a mouthpiece for the America corporatacracy. I would venture to say that there's less environmental regulations on American industry now than there has been in the last 30 years. And as for any fusion project, it's likely to be threatened more by the existing energy sector - oil, gas and coal - than politicians that want the money for welfare - yet another Kock Brothers inspired fairly tale. How much money do those politicians get from poor people that they should even care about welfare? How much money do they get from industry? If the politicians put a stop to a fusion project as you say, it was likely for their large campaign contributors from the oil industry that would be out of business tomorrow if such a project succeeded. All research that was once funded by the now "bugaboo" of "big government" is now funded by private industry, and that's why GMO corn is resistant to pesticides and not the pests that they sell you the pesticide to kill. While the results of genetic engineering could be less pesticides, instead, because it's funded by industry instead of government, the result is more poisons in the environment. The fusion project got killed not just because the oil industry wanted to see it get killed, but because politicians would rather pander to their big donors and curry favor with tax cuts for the rich. The fusion project got killed because politicians would rather give subsidies to those same oil giants that would lobby to have the project killed. Don't you see that your very perspective has been co-opted, and you've become a stalking horse for the very powers that rob from the middle class and trash the environment. Pardon the rant (though one rant deserves another), but you touched a nerve. It's your attitude that gets large blocks of the electorate voting against their own best interests, year after year, and that really needs to change!
I'm not sure why any small idea is an excuse to put forward a political point-of-view. I'd be interested in informed discussions about the pros and cons of the actual technology. For instance - is it sequestration, or simply cyclical, with CO2 released in the use of bicarbonate or hydrochloric acid, as some here suggest? It seems a bit of a leap in logic to attack the Endangered Species Act based on a technology tested at one site.
You add bicarbonate to an acidic ocean and you release... CO2. And it is high atmospheric CO2 that is causing ocean acidification. To make this system truly carbon capture, they need to bury the stuff where it is unlikely to chemically react with anything.
That is not the real reason why growing trees is not the solution. Sure, large forests would help but we are burning the product of trees and biologically captured carbon-rich organic molecules that took hundreds of millions of years. This is the oil, natural gas (methane) and coal produced over eons from dead biological material. The only likely bio-solution is ocean-seeding on a massive scale to use the power of photosynthesis by phytoplankton in which carbon is locked into calcium carbonate skeletons which fall to the ocean floor (though it takes conditions not entirely understood and the acidification of the ocean is actually working against it too). ...................... Concerning this sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) idea, it has me scratching my head. Without knowing the world demand for baking soda, and assuming it is pretty modest--at least compared to the masses of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere--this seems like a scheme that might make money for the "inventor" (though someone would have to tell me what has been invented here) and investors but it is not a solution to our continued burning of fossil fuels.
The type of hysteria that has made Al Gore rich with cries of "global warming/climate change" needed to be refreshed so a new boogeyman had to be "discovered." The same hysterical "Oceans are turning Acidic" articles have been posted or excerpted on nearly all the Chicken Little sites. For a change of pace try: http://www.c3headlines.com/are-oceans-becoming-acidic/
And when the source was traced it was found to be from pH change in the fresh water river entering up current from his beds preventing the spat from forming shells. Further off shore, outside the brackish zone, the pH of undiluted sea water was within normal range.
It's fairly small beer compared to the emissions from global transport, electricity production and manufacturing. On the subject of beer, why not capture more CO2 in a continous cycle by promoting greater global adoption of beer :-) It already uses CO2 from Industrial processes.
omb00900@ That is not a rant. That is the cold hard truth. Thanks for taking time to educate the uninformed.
It does seem to be more cyclical the sequestration. One benefit might be on raw materials saved or energy saved by using a filtered product instead of starting from scratch. The biggest benefit is that it makes filtering not only affordable, but potentially profitable. It would still be a big win even if the income from selling the end product simply offset the cost of the filtering technology. Break even costs on mandated filtering is better than a mandate that costs money to implement.
When it come down to the molecules of substances, bicarbonate is the same, whatever process used to produce them. In fact, we could be using the hydrocarbons from oil and coal to create food, if we had the right tools to make the chemical manipulation.
So they basically need to convert it to limestone, or a form that will raise the pH of the ocean and be useful to the corals, etc? I do realize it's temperature dependent, but revelations have made that less critical, as apparently short-term we aren't warming (if you rip out the flawed Russian parking lot data).
Just what does that mean? Some people are claiming acidity has risen by as much as 20 percent in 100 years even though there is no data to support that. Every long term study of shellfish has shown that ocean acidification does vary with local and global climate. Looking at fossils in the global seabed have shown certain species of bivalves better adapted for more or less acidic water have been the dominant species at various times in the ancient past. Indicating the worlds oceans ph levels have fluctuated naturally in the past. If there is any change, and I am suspecies of the inconsistent data, it is likely a continuation of a millennia old cycle driven by the weather.
Certainly Al Gore overstated some effects in his books and films, but c3headlines.com is well known as for mis-stating real studies and using spurious criticisms to try to debunk robust science. Carbonic acid is now present in minutely greater amounts in the oceans, in general, and many specific individual effects are observed. Fairly elaborate models on supercomputers suggest some significant changes, but the variables are such that we can't say exactly when or to what degree there will be changes. You, and C3, rely on such ambiguity to state unscientific assertions. It seems your goal is simply to confuse or deflect real scientific observation. You're guilty of the same thing you claim that Al Gore is.
The link you provided is pointing to a single creek in Oregon. Not the global industry. Localized pollution is behind the problem in that creek. As is often found in matters like this, it is easier for a community to blame the boogyman of climate change than admit they are spoiling their own little part of the world. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/06/environmentalists-peddle-scientific-illiteracy.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+powerlineblog%2Flivefeed+%28Power+Line%29
so we're going to use one unsubstantiated incident of pH change due to fresh water, versus numerous conflicting data? I can also cite a URL, this from the beginning of June: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/06/04/oysters-ocean-acidification I suspect you're making up your data, or, at the very least, being selective in its report.
There's no reason you couldn't create an edible, safe, and pure form of bicarbonate from this process; it would simply be a matter of whether it was economically feasible (can we purify it enough without spending too much money?). I think the author and Skyonic are talking about other applications of bicarbonate, though, like using it in industrial processes. But it's mostly the "yechh" factor - if we tell you where it came from, no matter how pure, you can't put it in your mouth. A similar thing happens with certain purified sewage - you could drink it, and it would be as pure as tap or bottled water, but most folks, no matter how cheaply available it is, aren't ready to drink it.
If it really was just molecules of bicarbonate that was produced then it wouldn't matter how it was produced, but k8 br raised the question of purity. How pure would this be? Would it also contain traces of heavy metals, dioxins or other substances that can come out of exhaust streams, that we don't want to be eating?