The process combines a common mineral, serpentinite with compacted carbon.
An exciting new pilot project by Australian clean-energy company, Mineral Carbonation International (MCI), will capture carbon emissions and transform it into carbonates for compact building materials. The company hopes to reach commercial scale by 2020.
The technology will be officially launched and demonstrated this Friday at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources. This will consist of the hour long process of bonding CO2 with crushed serpentinite.
MCI explains hows the technology works: “This mimics but greatly speeds up the natural weathering by rainfall which produces common types of rocks over millions of years. These carbonates and silica by-products have the potential to be used in building products such as concrete and plasterboard to create green construction materials.”
CEO of MCI, Marcus St. John Dawe said he was inspired when he heard that 4 million tonnes of cement are made worldwide every year. He says serpentinite is readily available throughout the world— however there are concerns about its sustainable mining. “As much as possible we want to make this an environmental solution,” said Dawe, proposing the mines could be backfilled.
“We need to be realistic about it, it’s not going to be the solution to the problem of global warming and climate change,” reasoned Prof Peter Cook, geologist at the University of Melbourne. “I’m sure it will work chemically, and they’ve shown that it does. The issues is the extent to which you can deploy it.”
Similar ideas around the world are working to sustainably transform and utilize carbon emissions— which amount to more than 38 billion tonnes per year (24 million pounds per second). Canadian company Carbon Engineering has successfully combined CO2 with hydrogen gas to make synthetic gasoline. Newlight Technologies, out of Los Angeles, is transforming greenhouse gas methane to produce plastics like cell phone cases and chairs.
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