Funding Innovative Carbon Uses

CCEMC invests in sustainable reductions

June 26, 2014

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The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (CCEMC) invests money from large-scale emitters into projects that hold out promise in achieving sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At the April 15 Zero 2014 conference in Edmonton, the CCEMC named 24 winners for the first round of the organization’s $35 million international Grand Challenge. These were selected from 344 submissions from 37 countries on six continents and awarded $12 million in prizes. The following is a look at one winner from each of the four categories.

Fuels Category

Technology: Fuel cell generates emission-free electricity
Organization: University of Alberta

While traditional fuel cell conversion methods consume energy, this one actually generates it. In fact, it simultaneously eliminates carbon dioxide, while producing carbon monoxide, and still generates an amount of electricity comparable to a normal fuel cell.

The novel fuel cell consists of an electrolyte tube with the methane-plus-carbon dioxide mixture flowing on one side and air on the other. A mixture of carbon monoxide and water comes out the downstream end, and the produced carbon monoxide can be used as a raw material to make industrial chemicals. Developers hope the fuel cell will be commercially viable in five years.

Solid Products Category

Technology: CO2 capture with fiber materials produces soil agents
Organization: CCm Research

The CCm process fixes carbon dioxide to base ­fiber materials to be used for soil conditioners, fertilizers and other polymers. The process ­delivers a permanent capture of carbon dioxide while creating high-demand products that, in turn, can help create a positive long-term environmental impact. The company is ­currently attempting to bring the technology to scale, and expects to complete pilot projects in three to five years.

Chemical Synthesis Category

Technology: Waste water desalination creates high-value chemicals with low emissions
Organization: University of British Columbia

This technology combines salts present in industrial wastewater with carbon dioxide in an electrochemical cell to mineralize the carbon dioxide in the form of high-value oil-field chemicals such as acids and carbonate salts. Wide-scale adoption of the technology in Alberta would result in the removal of approximately 3.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide while conserving up to 170 million barrels of water every year in the province alone. UBC is working with partners in Alberta to have the technology commercialized by 2018.

Bio-fixation Category

Technology: Microbial system converts industrially-emitted CO2 into butanol
Organization: OakBio Inc.

OakBio’s big idea is the use of carbon dioxide and hydrogen emissions to create bioplastics like butanol. The company’s biomanufacturing platform uses a strain of microbes that can grow on industrial flues, continuously converting carbon dioxide and hydrogen into valuable chemicals with little to no post-processing. The technology could help cut emissions in the oil and gas industry and concrete business. The company expects its biomanufacturing platform to be ready for commercialization in six years.

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