Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, an industrial plant in India, is now turning carbon dioxide from its own coal boilers into sodium carbonate, a chemical used in the manufacturing of glass, paper products, and detergents.
Gopalan Ramachandran, the factory’s owner, estimated his plant could save up to 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
“I feel really proud about it whenever I see the chimney, OK — clean,” he told VOA News. “Earlier there used to be lot of smoke there going out, now you find that everything is neat and clean.”
Engineers at Carbon Clean Solutions, a London-based start-up company that focuses on CO2 separation, developed the technology.
Arun Kumar, a research associate at New Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute, said the captured CO2 can be used to produce more cost effective chemicals compared with carbon capture storage from power plants.
“There are many chemicals exported out of India where CO2 is the raw material. Definitely you will find this a much, much simpler solution,” explained Ramachandran.
According to BBC, here’s how it works:
- The plant’s coal-fired boiler makes steam for its chemical operations.
- CO2 emissions are then stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.
- CO2 is fed into the chemical plant as an ingredient other compounds with several uses, including glass manufacture, detergents and sweeteners.
Ramachandran said the process has little to no emissions, and hopes to install another coal boiler to make more CO2 to synthesize fertilizer.
“So far the ideas for carbon capture have mostly looked at big projects, and the risk is so high they are very expensive to finance,” Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean Solutions, told The Guardian. “We want to set up small-scale plants that de-risk the technology by making it a completely normal commercial option.”
India, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, plans to reduce fossil-fuel emissions by one-third by 2030, making a big shift to renewable energy sources such as solar.
The country is also aiming to convert water CO2 into bio fuel.