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Baking Powder Out of Carbon? Indian Firm Makes Carbon Capture Breakthrough

Jan 05, 2017 09:41 AM EST
Baking Power Out of Carbon? Indian Firm Makes Carbon Capture Breakthrough
A company called Carbonclean is planning to turn planet-heating CO2 emissions into profit by converting them into something else. That's right, they plan on converting CO2 into baking powder and even lock up 60,000 tons of CO2 a year.
(Photo : Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

Are you out of baking powder? Carbon dioxide maybe a solution! 

A company called Carbonclean is planning to turn planet-heating CO2 emissions into profit by converting them into something else. That's right, they plan on converting CO2 into baking powder and even lock up 60,000 tons of CO2 a year.


All of this breakthrough is part of the race to make useful products out of CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.

According to The Guardian, a plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and is using it to make soda ash, also called baking powder.

The technology is currently running without subsidy, which is a big step for carbon capture technology as it has previously needed high costs and lukewarm government support. The firm behind Tuticorin process says the chemicals will lock up 60,000 tons of CO2 a year and the technology is already attracting interest worldwide.

The Guardian says there is a debate over carbon capture, mostly focused on carbon capture and storage (CCS). This is where emissions are forced into underground rocks at great cost and no economic benefit. The Tuticorin plant will be the first industrial scale example of carbon capture and utilization.

There already appears to be a global market for CO2 as a raw chemical material, and it comes mainly from industries such as brewing where it's cheap and easy to capture. However, until now, it's been too expensive to strip out CO2 from low concentrations in fuel gas. The Indian plant has been the first to overcome this via a new CO2-stripping chemical.

Its inventors from Carbonclean say it's less corrosive and requires much smaller equipment. Meaning the building cost is much lower than conventional carbon capture.

Now Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals is using the CO2 from its own boiler to make soda ash, a base chemical that can be used in glass manufacturing, sweeteners, detergents and paper products.

Carbonclean believes capturing CO2 can deal with 5 to 10 percent of the world's coal emissions. It's no big deal, but it's a valuable contribution because industrial steam-making boilers run on renewable energy.

The inventors of this new process are from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagapur. They were welcomed by the UK government, which offered grants and the special entrepreneur status. 

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