US firm plans to make cement from power station emissions

Posted by Laura Grant on August 11, 2008
Posted in Business

A company in California says it can turn the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by power stations into cement by bubbling it through sea water, Scientific American reports.

The company, called Calera, is preparing to open its first cement plant next door to a gas-fired power station on the California coast.

The cement-making process could be a way of killing two birds with one stone by reducing the geenhouse gas emissions of two highly polluting industries at one time. According to US Environmental Protection Agency, making one ton of cement results in about 1 ton of carbon dioxide.

The Calera process “essentially mimics marine cement, which is produced by coral when making their shells and reefs, taking the calcium and magnesium in seawater and using it to form carbonates at normal temperatures and pressures”, SciAm writes.

Stanford University scientist Brent Constantz, who came up with the idea, explains in SciAm: “We are turning carbon dioxide into carbonic acid and then making carbonate. All we need is water and pollution.

“For every ton of cement made, half a ton of carbon dioxide is sequestered,” he says. “We probably have the best carbon capture and storage technique there is by a long shot.”

Constantz approached Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khoslalast year, who put up the funding for the project, according to an article in Fast Company.

The Calera cement is envisaged as a replacement for Portland cement, which is used to make concrete. The company plans to be in pilot production by the end of the year, in commercial operation by 2010, and running 100 sites in North America five years later, Fast Company reports.

Sources: Scientific American and Fast Company

Pic credit: Foto43,


One Response to “US firm plans to make cement from power station emissions”

  1. Alfred Hayter
    October 4th, 2008 @ 8:44 am

    Brilliant idea. But would it be possible or feasible to get carbon emissions from inland power plants to the coast for such projects? Or could one create artificial saltwater lakes to process the carbon inland? Or could/should new power plants be built at the coast (though this would require transporting coal)? Would the benefits offset the energy transport costs? Questions, questions…

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