From fluffy pillows for concrete: uses of CO2 captured

Getty Images

The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to global warming, might the technologies of removal of a part of the gas from the atmosphere to help slow down the process?

When you tuck into bed tonight – curling on your memory foam mattress and fluffy pillows – consider this: you can be help to reduce climate change.

This is because the CO2 can now be captured from the air and stored in a range of objects of everyday use in the home and on the road.

Can be used to make the plastics for a whole series of things: the insulation in your fridge-freezer; the paint on your car; soles of shoes; and the association of the new book that you have not read it yet.

Also the concrete, your road is made of it may contain the captured CO2.

UK-based Econic Technologies, has invented a way to encourage CO2 – a are generally not very reactive gas to react with the petrochemical raw materials used in the production of many plastics.

In this catalyzed form, the CO2 can make up to 50% of the ingredients needed to make plastic. And the recycling of existing CO2 in this way reduces the amount of CO2 emissions typically result from the process.

“Our goal is that by 2026, the technology will be used to make at least 30% of polyols [the units that make up plastic] made in all the world, and that would reduce CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tons every year,” says Rowena Sellens, chief executive of Econic Technologies.

“This is equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.”


The company is currently working with industry partners to present its technology on the market.

The canadian firm CarbonCure Technologies of recycling of CO2 and put it in the concrete.

CarbonCure takes waste CO2 from industrial emitters – such as manufacturers of fertilizers – and injects controlled doses of liquid gas directly into the concrete truck or mixer.

The reaction that takes place creates calcium carbonate particles that are permanently bound within the concrete and make the concrete up to 20% stronger.

Today, CarbonCure technology is installed in more than 60 concrete plants throughout Canada and the UNITED states, providing hundreds of construction projects.

Another company, Carbon Engineering, CO2 capture and uses it to make diesel and jet fuel. While Carbon Clean Solutions, in the Indian port of Tuticorin, CO2 capture from a coal-fired power station and turns it into soda ash (sodium carbonate), an ingredient in fertilizers, synthetic detergents and dyes.

But as for the carbon capture efforts really make a difference?

Simply put, the levels of “greenhouse gases” – CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are the main ones – have increased rapidly because we have been burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas to produce electricity and power our transportation, among other human activities.

Getty Images

The 2015 Paris climate conference, 195 countries have agreed to try to keep global temperatures within 2C of pre-industrial times, greenhouse gas emission reduction.

But to reach this goal by 2030, the world needs to cut emissions of CO2 represents approximately 70% – from 12 to 14 gigatonnes per year, says John Christensen, director of a partnership between the UNITED nations Environment Programme and the Technical University of Denmark.

A gigatonne is a billion tonnes.

Econic, instead, hopes that by 2026, its technology will be responsible for the reduction of CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tons every year.

And CarbonCure has shown that the technology can help a medium size, the concrete producer to reduce CO2 emissions by 900 tonnes per year. At the global level, the concrete industry could reduce CO2 emissions over 700 million tonnes per year, the company believes.

“It’s nice to have these options in the inbox,” says Mr Christensen, “but there is no silver bullet, a simple solution.”

Ashley Cooper

Environmentalists are worried that these carbon capture technologies simply delay the critical step for the company must do to become a low-carbon economy. Plastic, factory production of less CO2 is still harmful to the environment, the argument goes.

“The research of new technologies and approaches that can help to reduce carbon emissions is essential, but it must not become an excuse to delay action to address the root of the problem – our dependence on fossil fuels,” says Doug Parr, chief scientist of Greenpeace UK.

“A process that appears to reduce the emissions or greater efficiency, we lock the maintenance of the industries that could be replaced with much more green.”

In addition, Mr. Christensen that these carbon capture technologies tend to be very expensive, because they are so small-scale.More Technology of Business

Getty Images

Could hackers hijack the connected car?
What will stop these self-driving trucks in the collision?
Could wood pulp to make the car lighter and more energy-efficient?
Where will the deadly floods strike next?

“The progress is positive, but it is far from what is needed,” he says.

Another challenge is what to do with the recycled carbon. Some have suggested that burial in the earth or deep under the ocean, but the consequences of this are not fully understood.

Then it is better to reduce the amount of emissions we produce in the first place, through the increased use of renewable energies, such as wind energy, hydropower, and solar, environmentalists argue. This could reduce emissions by up to 50% of the required amount.

“All the technologies available to bend the [emissions] curve toward the bottom. Then the capture of the carbon can come”, says Mr. Christensen.

“You may have an important role.”Follow the Technology and Business editor, Matthew Wall, on Twitter and Facebook
Click here for more Technology of Business