Brewing Bleach from Plant Pollutants


A Texas cement plant is now sporting a first-of-its-kind retrofit that can capture carbon dioxide and profitably convert it into other products.

The joint development was announced Tuesday (Oct. 21) by the Department of Energy and Skyonic Corp., of Austin, TX, the company behind the technology.

The $125 million project in San Antonio will capture 75,000 tons of CO2 and convert the greenhouse gas into sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), hydrochloric acid, bleach and other byproducts for a variety of industries.

The process will also remove most of the sulfur oxides, nitric oxides, mercury, and other heavy metals from the flue gas, the partners said.

The technology, based on several years of modeling, testing and analysis, uses electricity to mineralize the cement plant emissions.

SkyMine Project

The project, known as “Capitol SkyMine,” at the Capitol Aggregates Cement plant, has already had a substantial impact on the local economy, the DOE announced.

During construction, 250 jobs were created. The technology will add 40 new full-time jobs in San Antonio.

The DOE said $28 million of the carbon-capture and conversion technology tab was paid for by grants awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery (Stimulus) Act.

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The project shows the potential for carbon-capture technologies, according to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Capitol SkyMine is expected to generate approximately $48 million in revenue and $28 million in annual earnings, according to the company.

Carbon Capture Potential

The development signals the potential for carbon-capture technologies going forward, according to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The SkyMine technology was designed to retrofit existing coal-burning facilities, but also has potential applications for heavy industry, including cement, glass, steel and natural gas power.

The byproducts produced through this process will offset other products with higher carbon footprints, and can be safely stored indefinitely. Skyonic also plans on testing these products as a feed-stock for algae-derived biofuels.

In 2015, Skyonic plans to expand SkyMine to capture CO2 from the factory smokestacks using waste heat, in lieu of electricity, reports say. That technology is called SkyCycle.


Tagged categories: Cement; Green building; Hazardous air pollutants; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Research; Technology; U.S. Department of Energy

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