Till now, carbon dioxide has been dumped in oceans or buried underground. Trade has been reluctant to implement carbon dioxide scrubbers in amenities as a result of value and footprint.
What if we couldn’t solely seize carbon dioxide, however convert it into one thing helpful? S. Komar Kawatra and his college students have tackled that problem, they usually’re having some success.
A crew lead by Kawatra, a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological College, his PhD college students, Sriram Valluri and Victor Claremboux, and undergraduate Sam Root, have designed a carbon dioxide scrubber. They’re engaged on changing the carbon dioxide that they seize into oxalic acid, a naturally occurring chemical in lots of meals.
Root and Valluri have been invited to current their analysis on the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s annual assembly in Denver in February.
Oxalic acid is utilized by trade to leach uncommon earth parts from ore our bodies. The uncommon earths are utilized in electronics comparable to cell telephones. Uncommon earths aren’t presently produced in america; China produces 90 p.c or extra of the uncommon earths on the earth. By producing oxalic acid domestically, it might be potential to profitably extract uncommon earth parts within the U.S., which is essential for nationwide safety, Kawatra stated.
How a Carbon Dioxide Scrubber Works
The group put in their carbon dioxide scrubber on the Michigan Tech steam plant, the place they’re testing with actual flue fuel at pilot plant scale.
The steam plant produces flue fuel that incorporates eight p.c carbon dioxide. The chemical engineers’ scrubber introduced the emissions right down to 4 p.c and their purpose is to scale back it beneath two p.c.
“Beneath two p.c, we’re joyful,” Kawatra stated. “Beneath one p.c, we will probably be very joyful.”
It is an actual risk. “We have already acquired it right down to zero p.c within the laboratory,” Valluri famous.
Within the steam plant, they faucet a pattern stream of flue fuel from the boiler’s important exhaust line. The flue fuel comes out of the burner at 300-350 levels Fahrenheit. The pattern is compressed by a filter that removes particles, then passes by a cooling unit earlier than it enters the underside of the scrubbing column.
Soda Ash Captures Carbon Dioxide
A sodium carbonate resolution is pumped into the highest of the 11-foot-tall scrubbing column. The flue fuel is bubbled up by the column. Because it strikes towards the highest, the sodium carbonate or soda ash removes a lot of the carbon dioxide from the fuel. Kawatra and his college students monitor the quantity of carbon dioxide continuously.
“The most important problem is a fluctuating ratio of gases within the flue fuel,” Valluri stated. Crew member Root elaborates, “You want a cascade management system that measures the carbon dioxide and manipulates the quantity of scrubbing resolution accordingly.”
“Our subsequent challenges are, how a lot can we scale the scrubber up and what can we use the carbon dioxide for,” Valluri says. This ties into Valluri’s and Claremboux’s different analysis undertaking, the conversion of carbon dioxide to helpful merchandise. They’ve been capable of produce oxalic acid from carbon dioxide at laboratory scale.
Tech Alumnus Helps Analysis
John Simmons, a Michigan Tech alumnus within the Chemical Engineering Academy at Tech and chairman of Carbontec Power in Bismarck, North Dakota, is supporting Kawatra’s analysis. He says the financial savings to trade of this sort of carbon dioxide scrubber is big.
The standard technique of eradicating carbon dioxide from emissions makes use of amines, nitrogen-based chemical compounds that bind the carbon dioxide. However amines value $20,000 a ton, Simmons stated. Carbonates just like the soda ash that Kawatra’s crew is utilizing value $200 a ton.
Simmons is happy concerning the potential for producing a business product from the captured carbon dioxide. “I do not suppose sequestering it within the floor is a good suggestion,” he says. “Now we have to discover a strategy to put it to use commercially.”
The expertise, trade-named the “Clearite VI Carbon Dioxide Seize/ Utilization Course of,” was patented (Patent No. US7,919,064B2 ) by the inventors, S. Komar Kawatra, Tim Eisele and John Simmons, and assigned to Michigan Tech. Carbontec Power Company, the expertise sponsor, is the unique world-wide licensee and plans to commercialize the expertise by joint ventures and sub-licenses.
Simmons is happy that Kawatra and his college students are conducting a pilot plant examine of their scrubber in Michigan Tech’s pure fuel fired steam plant. “It was essential to check the method below precise emission situations,” he explains.