A company in India has said it has been turning captured carbon dioxide from a coal-powered boiler into valuable chemicals such as baking powder, in what is thought to be a world first.
The process is taking place at a chemical plant in the city of Tuticorin. With the help of an Indian firm, Carbon Clean Solutions, they say they can save 60,000 tonnes (66,000 tons) of CO2 emissions a year.
"I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet,” Ramachadran Gopalan, who owns the plant, Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, told BBC Radio 4. “I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.”
Carbon Clean is run by two young Indian chemists, with their technique using salt to bond with CO2 molecules in the boiler chimney from flue gases. This process of carbon capture differs from others in that it uses a new chemical to strip CO2, which is apparently more efficient than current chemicals. More than 90 percent of the CO2 is said to be captured.
The soda ash produced has a range of uses, which include glass manufacture, sweeteners, detergents, and paper products, according to the Guardian. The plant supposedly has almost zero emissions now since utilizing the technique.
Last year, a plant in Iceland made a breakthrough when it turned carbon dioxide into stone. But having a more useful by-product, like soda ash, could be more appealing to businesses. On their website, Carbon Clean estimates that carbon capture could reduce about 20 percent of the total global greenhouse emissions contributing to climate change within the next four decades.
“Major carbon dioxide emitters like power plants and manufacturing facilities, in future may be asked to install carbon capture technologies or pay carbon tax,” they note. “Carbon Clean Solutions is innovating and working with customers to develop technologies that will cost effectively reduce the CO2 emissions from such large point sources.”