In a laboratory overflowing with cables, pipes, tubes and wires, seven academics believe they are on the verge of a breakthrough in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists in Aberdeen have found a way of turning damaging carbon emissions into building bricks, a discovery that has helped them to get to the final stage of a global competition, with a prize fund of £15 million, designed to solve one of humanity’s great challenges. All they have to do now is construct a working prototype of their machine that carries out the conversion in the next two years. When they do that they believe they will be on the cusp of kick-starting a multibillion-pound industry. Their company, Carbon Capture Machine, is the only remaining European entrant in the US-organised Carbon XPrize competition, which runs over five years and aims to find the best way of stopping carbon flooding into the atmosphere by changing it into a useful and profitable material. Carbon Capture Machine relies on a relatively simple idea: it takes carbon dioxide from the fuel-burning process at power stations or other industrial processes, captures it in a weak alkali solution then turns it into a carbonate. This is then combined with brines – water saturated with salt – to form compounds such as calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which have everyday uses in hundreds of different products. The material can be sold at £400 per tonne and it is this ability to turn a profit from waste gas that has interested industry. The academics are particularly pleased with the way they have managed to make bricks, wall panels and insulation units which are lightweight, carbon neutral and incombustible.
Times 25th April 2018 read more »