Archive for category Bioremediation

BAET Tech Captures CO2 from Vehicles and Enriches Soil

Posted by on Monday, 1 March, 2010

As progress is made to reduce emissions from cars and trucks, the focus of scientists and regulators is turning to off-road vehicles. Now there may be a new method to capture and sequester greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural equipment – by injecting it straight into the soil.

A report from the Australian newspaper The Age on a novel home-grown carbon capture technology with unexpected benefits.
A emission-capturing, crop-boosting technology is developed and promoted by the Canadian firm N/C Quest Inc. under the label “Bio-Agtive Emissions Technology.” In short, the process works like this: exhaust from agricultural off-road equipment is captured and cooled to ambient temperature, then injected into the soil through on-board pneumatic tubes. The exhaust emissions are reported benefit the soil by increasing the uptake of phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur, while providing fixed nitrogen to the crops.

The BAET method diverges from traditional carbon sequestration techniques, in which CO2 is stored in an underground cavity such as an oil well, or bubbled through and absorbed into the ocean. In contrast, the only way that agriculture stores carbon dioxide is through the growth of biomass.


Biochar’s Potential for Carbon Capture – CCS using Biochar

Posted by on Sunday, 31 January, 2010

Scientists are reporting that biochar, a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago, has the potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as CO2.

Biochar can be used as a soil amendment to affect plant growth yield, improve water quality, reduce leaching of nutrients, reduce soil acidity, and reduce irrigation and fertilizer requirements.

The potential for biochar to both sequester CO2 and enhance soil fertility is something I have been hearing for quite some time now, in many meetings and conferences I attend. True, the CO2 is not sequestered entirely because it is released into the atmosphere over a period of time, but this appears to be one sustainable way of sequestration, at least partial sequestration.

Biochar is a high carbon, fine grained residue which used to be produced using centuries old techniques by smoldering biomass. It is typically produced by heating wood, grass, cornstalks or other organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The heat drives off gases that can be collected and burned to produce energy. It leaves behind charcoal rich in carbon.

A study recently done by ACS involved a life cycle analysis of biochar production. The study concluded that several biochar production systems have the potential for being an economically viable way of sequestering carbon while producing renewable energy and enhancing soil fertility.


Biochar , Carbon Capture and Storage

CO2 to Gasoline, Fuel Using Enzymes – Carbon Sciences’ Biocatalysts

Posted by on Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Read recently about the announcement from Carbon Sciences that it has developed a breakthrough technology to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into gasoline and other portable fuels.

The company’s current approach is an enzyme-based process used to transform CO2 into low-level fuels, such as methanol. According to the company, it’s team has now discovered a new and more cost efficient process to produce gasoline, a high-level fuel, from CO2. The key features of this breakthrough includes (1) the of use flue emissions directly from coal-fired power plants or industrial factories, (2) the use of brackish water, eliminating the need for distilled freshwater as the source of hydrogen and reaction medium, (3) mild operating conditions, eliminating the need for capital intensive stainless steel equipment, and (4) a highly scalable system.

I was able to get some more insights on the technology and process, but not surprisingly, a lot more – from the company’s web page. See also here.

The path that the company is pursuing – a biocatalytic process to obtain useful hydrocarbons from CO2 – is exciting, but there are few details on the specifics, as well as data on energy required for the entire process.

Well, to its credit, the company does say the following:”By innovating at the intersection of chemical engineering and bio-engineering, we have discovered a low energy and highly scalable process to recycle large quantities of CO2 into gaseous and liquid fuels using organic biocatalysts. The key to our CO2-to-Fuel approach lies in a proprietary multi-step biocatalytic process. Instead of using expensive inorganic catalysts, such as zinc, gold or zeolite, with traditional high energy catalytic chemical processes, our process uses inexpensive, renewable biomolecules to catalyze certain chemical reactions required to transform CO2 and water (H2O) into fuel molecules. Of greatest significance, our process occurs at low temperature and low pressure, thereby requiring far less energy than other approaches.” (Source)

But still, I think their research is at an initial stage and unless we see results from larger-scale commercial efforts with benchmarked data, it will be difficult to know whether indeed this interesting idea can be a serious solution to CO2 capture (I doubt whether it can be called sequestration because the CO2 will be released when the gasoline burns).

Enzyme-based Capture Carbon – CO2 CCS Idea from Blood

Posted by on Monday, 25 January, 2010

Read an interesting article on how United Technologies is mimicking a blood enzyme to capture carbon from coal plants.

OK, this doesn’t sound like something that could be implemented within the next many, many years, but it is an interesting idea all the same.

We all know that our blood cells constantly capture CO2 and move it someplace better. This is quite analogous to what coal-fired power plant operators may want to do with all the carbon dioxide at their power plants.

Using this analogy as the base, scientists at United Technologies’ research center are trying to develop industrial blood–a synthetic version of the enzyme that blood uses to capture CO2.

The scientists envision a simpler, cheaper system involving membranes that sift carbon dioxide out of the flue gas. By doping the membrane with a substance based on the enzyme that blood uses to capture CO2, called carbonic anhydrase, the team hopes to facilitate precise carbon catpure.

Carbonic anhydrase, found in red blood cells, grabs the CO2 and transforms it into a bicarbonate ion and a proton, which dissolves easily in the blood and can then be carried away to the lungs. In the lungs the enzyme does the opposite: it changes the bicarbonate back into CO2 so it can be breathed out.

Interesting analogy.

There’s more about it here, so those who wish to understand the science better are requested to read it. Me, I would like to be more practical. What is the chance that such a technology would ever come out of the labs and into the commercial space? And if it indeed does, how long would that take? And the evergreen billion dollar question – how much would that cost?