|Carbon Sciences is developing a biocatalytic process to convert CO2 to low-carbon hydrocarbons. Click to enlarge.|
Carbon Sciences, Inc., the developer of a CO2-to-carbonate technology that converts the gas into precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) for use in the production of paper, pharmaceuticals and plastics, is developing a process to transform CO2 into low-carbon hydrocarbons (C1 to C3) for subsequent upgrading into higher-carbon fuels such as gasoline and jet fuel.
Conventional processes for the conversion of CO2 to fuel include direct photolysis which uses light energy to break off the oxygen atoms in CO2; and chemically reacting CO2 with hydrogen to create methane or methanol. These processes require large amounts of energy due to high pressure and high temperature chemical processes, says Carbon Sciences, which reduce their economic viability for creating transportation fuels on a large scale.
|A full CO2-to-fuels plant. Click to enlarge.|
In contrast, Carbon Sciences says that it has developed a multi-step biocatalytic process that occurs at low temperature and low pressure, thereby requiring less energy than other approaches. The biocatalyst employed in each step of the process serves to create an intermediate carbon-infused compound that can be acted on by the next step with less energy. At the end of the process, the various carbon-infused compounds are assembled into basic hydrocarbons such as C1 (e.g. methane), C2 (e.g. ethane) and C3 (e.g. propane).
A complete CO2-to-Fuels plant would include the following components:
CO2 Flue Gas Processor: Crude purification of CO2 stream to remove heavy particulates. The Carbon Science process does not require high purity CO2, and so can use lower cost CO2 capture and processing.
Biocatalyst Unit: Regeneration of biocatalysts for the CO2 conversion process.
Biocatalytic Reactor Matrix: The primary and largest part of the plant where mass quantities of biocatalysts work in a matrix of liquid reaction chambers, performing the multi-stage breakdown of CO2 and its transformation to basic gas and liquid hydrocarbons. These reactors are inexpensive low temperature and low pressure vessels. The number of reactors determines the size and output capacity of the plant.
Filtration: The liquid solutions are filtered through membrane units to extract liquid fuels. Gaseous fuels are extracted through condensers.
Conversion and Polishing: The output of the Filtration stage contains low hydrocarbon fuels. These hydrocarbons can be processed into higher fuels, such as gasoline and jet fuel, through commercially available catalytic converters.
Carbon Sciences says that it will be able to configure the CO2-to-Fuel process to produce a variety of hydrocarbon fuels by customizing the conversion and polishing stage and biocatalytic formulation.
Speaking in Cambridge, UK at the Entrepreneurship for a Zero Carbon Society conference, organized by CambridgeClimate and hosted by Cambridge University, Derek McLeish, Carbon Sciences CEO said:
Carbon Sciences has been working for some time on using CO2 as the feedstock for production of high value products. Since the world is highly dependent on the existing transportation and fuel delivery infrastructure, we view fuel to be the ultimate high value product.
In June, Carbon Sciences, Inc. signed a joint research agreement with Abo University, Finland to research carbon mineralization technologies. The company also announced the appointment of Dr. Naveed Aslam as Chief Technology Advisor.
Dr. Aslam has more than 14 years of research and hands-on process engineering experience in the petrochemical, organic and fiber manufacturing industries. For most of his career, he was a senior process engineer for Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At SABIC, his duties included responsibility for all aspects of process engineering during the preliminary and detailed design phases of a 125,000 tons per year ethylene manufacturing plant.
Most recently, Dr. Aslam served as a Research Fellow at the University of Texas, Houston, and Florida State University, Tallahassee, where he received the Outstanding Research Associate Award.