Capturing Carbon and Building With It: Calera’s Vision

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On Monday, the E.P.A. announced that over 100 cement kilns will have to reduce the pollution they emit. This will be very costly to the cement industry, with each producer estimated at having to spend around $1 billion a year to keep up with the E.P.A.’s regulations. A majority of the mercury and particulate matter will not be emitted with regulations set and there will be a significant drop in serious health issues that are known side affects of cement production.

The 100 cement kilns can reduce their pollution and carbon emissions by teaming up with Calera. Instead of carbon capture sequestration, Calera is using their technology to capture the flue gas from power plants and cement kilns so that the gas emissions can be converted into solid minerals. These minerals can be utilized in the construction of buildings, therefore reducing the amount of mining for limestone and aggregate. The Calera process implemented on a coal-fired plant would produce 5 tons of mineral product for every ton of coal burned, while at the same time eliminating 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. Moreover, Calera is working on a project at a natural gas power plant in California, demonstrating that their technology could be expanded to handle the flue gas of a 100 MW plant so that the carbon dioxide would be converted into 555,000 tons per year of product mineral for buildings.

Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, or MAP, is the scientific term behind Calera’s sequestration. In the initial stages, waste water is put in contact with the flue gas for MAP to initiate. MAP has the ability to also capture mercury, sulfur oxides, and other criteria pollutants from the flue gas of plants.

For the world’s largest carbon emitters, Calera’s technology may be a very viable option to comply with GHG regulations and mitigate climate change. Although coal is not a renewable or clean energy source, Calera’s technology can significantly reduce the amount of limestone mining for cement.

Image Credit: elephantr via flickr under a CC license

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