Sequestering smokestack carbon into cash
By Ben Coxworth
June 10, 2010
Last week, Texas-based Skyonic Corporation was granted a U.S. patent on its SkyMine technology, which is said to remove CO2 from smoke stack emissions by mineralizing it into sodium bicarbonate. That bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) can then be sold for use in glass manufacturing, algae biofuel production, and other areas. Skyonic claims that not only will its process remove carbon and other harmful substances from flue gases, but also that companies using SkyMine will financially profit from the sale of bicarbonates.
Skyonic is somewhat secretive about how its process works, but states that it combines gas handling, absorption and electrochemical production. Facilities utilizing it can choose to remove anywhere from 10 to 99 percent of the carbon in their emissions, due to the fact that different plant designs may require different carbon removal configurations.
The process is also said to remove sulfur, nitrogen and heavy metals such as mercury, which means that plants will be able to save money by doing away with existing scrubbers and other filtration equipment. Besides sodium bicarbonate, SkyMine can also reportedly produce marketable hydrochloric acid, bleach, chlorine, and hydrogen. We’re told that companies using the system can expect to see a return on their investment in as little as three years.
Skyonic has utilized a US$3 million Department of Energy grant to build a SkyMine demonstration project, which will later be incorporated into a commercial cement plant. That plant, owned and run by Capitol Aggregates, should be operational by 2012. It is hoped that 75,000 metric-tonnes (82,673 tons) of CO2 can be captured there, and that an additional 200,000 tonnes (220,462 tons) will be offset through the production of byproducts.