Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Making money from CO2

Imagine if waste carbon dioxide in the air could be turned into useful products such as fuels, building materials or even baking powder. At a stroke it would help get rid of a greenhouse gas, slow down climate change and make money from a major pollutant.

If that sounds like cloud cuckooland, the technology is already being used and companies are turning waste CO2 into commercially viable products.

In Massachusetts, Novomer is a company that has developed catalysts to convert the gas into polymers and plastics, and Joule is a biotech start-up using waste CO2 to feed bacteria that produce ethanol and diesel. Skyonic in Texas turns CO2 into construction materials and even baking soda, while Princeton University’s Liquid Light uses electricity and catalysts to convert it into the building blocks of bottles and fibres.

Much of this technology plugs into waste CO2 from polluting industries. But recent work has sucked it out of the air we breathe. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas, just 0.04% of the atmosphere, so large amounts of air have to be treated to extract it. Recent research at George Washington University captured atmospheric CO2, then turned it into graphene carbon nanofibres, used for strengthening materials in aircraft, cars, wind turbines and sports equipment.

Work is underway to scale up the technique, and if it can produce nanofibres cheaply enough, they could be used for strengthening building materials, thereby using up significant quantities.

And making money from CO2 is certainly an interesting way of tackling climate change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *