In India, one company, CarbonClean, has developed a new way to remove carbon dioxide from the environment, by turning it into baking soda. CarbonClean is using their new technology at a coal-fired power plant in the city of Tuticorin. The company claims that they can trap more than 66,000 tons of carbon per year at the plant.
Like most CO2 capture technologies, CarbonClean's method uses a solvent that traps the CO2 and converts it into a more inert form. The most common industrial solvent is amine, while CarbonClean's solvent is a new chemical that is slightly more efficient at capturing CO2. It's also cheaper and less corrosive, while the required machinery is smaller and cheaper to build.
Crucially, the chemical's small extra capturing efficiency allows CarbonClean to earn enough money to run the plant without a subsidy. This is possibly the first instance of an industrial plant that can use carbon capture without a subsidy.
CarbonClean is using their captured carbon to make baking soda, which has a number of uses in everything from detergents and baking to glass manufacture and medicine. While other groups have been able to convert CO2 into useful products in the lab, this is the first example in an industrial setting without heavy subsidies.
Of course, carbon capture is far from an ultimate solution to climate change. Carbonclean predicts that only about 5 to 10 percent of the carbon released from coal plants can be captured using their technology. Still, if the world's coal plants can adopt this technology without requiring governments to subsidize it, it could dramatically reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in the future.
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