Carbon Capture

If you're reading this article, there's a significant chance you recognise the impact of climate change on our planet. Studies have found that climate change is at the top of the list of issues that worry GEN X and GEN Z. They fear the impact climate change will have on the lives of their children and grandchildren. Even if we stop the emission of greenhouse gases at once, including CO2, global warming will continue for several more decades

Several startups and scientists across the globe have taken the initiative to develop and commercialise processes to capture existing greenhouse gases and convert them into useful industrial and commercial products such as building material, alternative fuels and day-to-day items.

The International Energy Agency says, "Carbon Capture is one of the only technology solutions that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation and deliver the deep emissions reductions needed across key industrial processes."

There are a lot of startups and research teams that are working towards battling this issue. Solar Foods is a Finnish startup based out of VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). They have developed a new technique to produce a protein alternative they call "Solein”. According to their estimates, Solein nutrient contents can be separated to about 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates and 5% to 10% fat 1Kg of Solein can offer a full day's worth of protein for seven to ten individuals.

The protein alternative is produced from air (CO2 and 02), water, electricity and from renewable resources. With the help of hydrolysis, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. Some minerals, such as sodium and potassium, along with hydrogen are fed to a bacterium. This method of production requires 10 litres of water to produce 1Kg of Solein. 1kg of beef and soy need 15500 litres and 2500 litres respectively. This makes Solein eco-friendly.

Solein is 10x more efficient than soy production. The team plans to sell a kilogramme of Solein for 7 to 10 euros by 2021.The team has a long way to go. Solar Foods still needs to scale production and meet strict safety regulations to launch a new food product.

Lithium-CO2 batteries are also an alternative to tackle the problem of excessive CO2. The best way to stop CO2 from entering the atmosphere is to capture it at its origin. Many institutes are exploring and deploying carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) systems. These systems use a chemical reaction to capture CO2 before it leaves the plant. The last stage of this reaction requires high temperatures, which need a large quantity of electrical energy. To mitigate it, a team at MIT wants to use a non-aqueous electrochemical reaction to capture the CO2 instead of expensive CSS systems. They have developed a method in which, they effectively turn the reactivity of CO2 'on' with the help of the `sorbent' molecule, an amine, a derivative from ammonia. Sorbent is being used in CCS systems.

With the help of the correct electrolyte. They ob-served Lithium Carbonate( Li2CO3) deposits in an electrochemical cell comprising a lithium anode and a carbon cathode. High discharge rates, up to 3 volts and very high capacities were observed which were similar to those in the state-of-the-art lithium-based batteries. Thus, the sorbent being used can serve a dual purpose. It can absorb CO2 and store electric energy. There are still several issues that need to be worked out. We need a great deal of research before we can understand the potential and unlock the mysteries of the lithium-CO2 battery.

Carbon Cure is another organization which is leading the movement to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. Cement production accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions. Current plants can be retrofit with tech, which can capture CO2 in gases state and convert it to liquefied CO2.Carbon Cure's plans to buy the liquefied CO2 from the plants or retrofit existing plants with their technology to infuse CO2 into the concrete mix. When the concrete mix is poured on the construction site, the CO2 reacts with the minerals and forms limestone. They trap the gas inside forever as it has reacted at a molecular level. The end product is as durable as regular concrete. )(PRIZE has named CarbonCure's as a finalist in the $20 million Global NRG Cosia Carbon XPRIZE Challenge.

Dimensional Energy is a startup based out of Cor-nell University that proposes to set up CO2 refineries at an industrial scale. Like the team at MIT, Dimensional Energy wants to set up their HI-LIGHT Chemical Reactor next to factories, so that the CO2 can be converted into fuel. They are pioneers in artificial photosynthesis and produce green chemicals and polymers. They feed gaseous CO2 through their reactor along with sunlight and hydrogen to produce liquid fuel. The liquid from their reactor is used for transportation, heating, energy, and gas stoves. Since it produces methanol from the CO2 removed from the atmosphere, we can use it guilt-free. Dimension Energy has demonstrated its reactor technology successfully. They have partnered with a coal plant in Wyoming, USA to set up a pilot program to test and prove their technology. However, the company believes the rate of advancement and investment into carbon capture technology need to increase at once.

There are still hundreds of other companies and researcher working around the globe who are trying to reduce the carbon footprint in different sectors like Breathe, a startup based out of Bangalore. They convert CO2 into highly pure methanol, which can be used as fuel for vehicles. Another being C4X, they are converting CO2 into high-value chemicals and bio-composite foamed plastics. Currently, carbon capture is able to pull out only 0.1% of the overall carbon emissions. This number is set to rise in the next few decades. All of these people and organizations can make a difference. It's only a matter of time be¬fore they scale their production up and start chipping away the damage that has been done to this planet