Is there any positive role that greenhouse gases can play? Secretary Steven Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says ‘yes,’ with an announcement that the DOE will be providing $106 million in partial matching funds for six projects that aim to find ways to convert captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sources into useful products such as fuel, plastics, cement, and fertilizers.
The DOE funding, provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will go to Alcoa, Inc. of Pennsylvania for a pilot-scale process that will demonstrate the high efficiency conversion of flue gas CO2 into solid mineral carbonates utilized as construction fill material, soil amendments, and green fertilizer; to Novomer Inc., of New York, to develop a process for converting waste CO2 into a number of polycarbonate products (plastics) for use in the packaging industry; to Touchstone Research Laboratory, Inc., of West Virginia, to pilot-test an open-pond algae production technology that can capture at least 60 percent of flue gas CO2 from an industrial coal-fired source to produce biofuel and other high value co-products; to Phycal, LLC, of Ohio, for the development of an integrated system designed to produce liquid biocrude fuel from microalgae cultivated with captured CO2; to Skyonic Corporation, of Texas, to continue the development of their SkyMine mineralization technology, a potential replacement for existing industrial scrubber technology; and to Calera Corporation, of California, to develop a process that directly mineralizes CO2 in flue gas to carbonates that can be converted into useful construction materials.
These projects were initially selected for a first phase funding in October 2009 as part of a $1.4 billion effort to capture CO2 from industrial sources for storage or beneficial use. In order to win final funding, project teams have performed experiments on innovative concepts and produced preliminary designs for pilot plants to study the feasibility of their proposed methods. The selected projects are now ready for the next phase of development, in which researchers will design, construct, and operate their technologies at pilot-scale and evaluate their commercial feasibility.
“These innovative projects convert carbon pollution from a climate threat to an economic resource,” said Secretary Chu of the DOE, in a statement. “This is part of our broad commitment to unleash the American innovation machine and build the thriving, clean energy economy of the future.”