Pilot plant to transform CO2 emissions into ‘bricks’

A pilot plant to be built in Australia will transform CO2 emissions, captured through carbon capture technology, into carbonate rock 'bricks' for use in the construction industry, researchers have claimed.

The new method for storing carbon emissions generated from fossil fuels and other industrial processes will be trialled at the mineral carbonation research pilot plant to be built at the University of Newcastle.

Expected to be operational by 2017, the AUS $9m project’s ultimate goal is to deal with both carbon storage needs and to introduce new green building materials.

A multidisciplinary research team have demonstrated the technology in small scale laboratory settings, which led to the funding bids and approval.

Involved in the project, professor Bodgan Dlugogorski from the University’s Priority Research Centre for Energy said the research pilot plant would allow for larger scale testing and determine cost savings and emission reductions compared to other methods of storing CO2.

“The key difference between geosequestration and ocean storage and our mineral carbonation model is we permanently transform CO2 into a usable product, not simply store it underground,” said professor Dlugogorski.

The mineral carbonation technology replicates the Earth’s carbon sink mechanism by combining CO2 with low grade minerals such as magnesium and calcium silicate rock to make inert carbonates.

Fellow professor, Eric Kennedy, said: “The Earth’s natural mineral carbonation system is very slow. Our challenge is to speed up that process to prevent CO2 emissions accumulating in the air in a cost-effective way”.

Leigh Stringer

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