Monday, November 16, 2009

Recycling Carbon Dioxide

Burning fossil fuels results in the emission of 27 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide worldwide every year. By 2030, that figure will climb 60% to 43 billion metric tons.

(Incidentally, one metric ton of CO2 occupies about 556 cubic meters, approximately the volume of a 3-bedroom house.)

What are we going to do with all that CO2?

We could corral the gas through Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies. But CCS is expensive and will not be widely available for years.

The alternative, say a number of researchers and companies, is to recycle the carbon.

That's right. You can recycle practically anything these days. Why not CO2?

Through a technology called electro-reduction of carbon dioxide (ERC), scientists can take CO2 directly from industrial waste gases and convert it to formate salts and/or formic acid. Both chemicals are widely used in industrial applications. Or the CO2 can be recycled into algal fuel or methanol.

What's more, whereas CCS is a net cost to industry, ERC technology could bring in net revenues.

Plus, ERC can be ramped up relatively quickly. A demonstration ERC unit could be installed within a year, or a commercial plant within 2 years.

Recycling -- it's everywhere you never expected it to be.

(Source of story: Global Spec.)

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