Climate Solutions
Indian Students Show the Way Forward for Carbon Capture

A pair of students in India claim to have cracked the code on creating a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system that can help prevent greenhouse gas emissions without breaking the bank, and they have an example to prove it. Reuters reports:

[W]hile most previous technologies have focused on capturing the emissions and pumping them below ground, [Carbon Clean Solution’s] technique is a capture-and-utilize one. It uses a patented molecule that captures carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and uses it to make other useful products like baking soda. The technology can be retrofitted onto existing plants, and is cheaper and more efficient than existing methods, [co-founder Aniruddha Sharma] said. […]

Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals & Fertilizers has used the technology at its plant in southern Tamil Nadu state since October. At the plant, carbon dioxide is captured from a coal-fired boiler and converted into soda ash, which is used in glass manufacturing, sweeteners and detergents.

The process is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, a world first, according to Sharma. The cost of capture is about $30 per ton – about half the cost of other technologies in the market, he said.

Figuring out how to use the carbon captured by these CCS systems could be the key to making this a viable option for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions the world over. The key here is that the student’s company, Carbon Clean Solutions (annoyingly and, we presume, intentionally also abbreviated CCS) is converting captured atmospheric carbon into a usable industrial product, in this case soda ash. That means that these systems can actually be seen as revenue streams, and the more useful their CO2 byproducts become, the better the economic case for their installation.

Carbon capture is one of a handful of tantalizing silver bullet technologies that, if it proves capable of being deployed economically and en masse, could virtually overnight change the calculus behind our climate change problem. Imagine a world where a simple retrofit could keep a coal- or gas-fired power plant running while nullifying its effects on the climate. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is… at present. But it’s not just wishful thinking to look forward to a technological breakthrough that could radically and rapidly shift the climate change debate. As these students demonstrate, there’s plenty of research already underway on that front.

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