Can baking soda curb global warming?

A start-up in Texas says it can turn the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants into baking soda. Some scientists have proposed compressing carbon dioxide and sticking it in underground caves as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases. Joe David Jones wants to make baking soda out of it.

Jones, the founder and CEO of Skyonic, has come up with an industrial process called SkyMine that captures 90 percent of the carbon dioxide coming out of smoke stacks and mixes it with sodium hydroxide to make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. The energy required for the reaction to turn the chemicals into baking soda comes from the waste heat from the factory.

“It is cleaner than food-grade (baking soda),” he said.

The system also removes 97 percent of the heavy metals, as well as most of the sulfur and nitrogen compounds, Jones said.

Luminant, a utility formerly known as TXU, installed a pilot version of the system at its Big Brown Steam Electric Station in Fairfield, Texas, last year. Skyonic, meanwhile, hopes to install a system that will consume the greenhouse gas output of a large–500 megawatts or so–power plant around 2009. Skyonic is currently designing one of these large systems.

“It has been working pretty well. It does present a potential solution to emissions,” said a representative for Luminant. “But right now there is still a lot of work to be done.”

If the concept works on a grand scale, it could help change some of the pernicious economics and daunting engineering challenges surrounding carbon capture and sequestration.

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  1. It’s a great idea that Skyonic has, especially so if you compare it to the proposed method of converting the gas to a liquid and pumping it to a specific location below the earths surface where it can rapidly become a gas again and occupy a very large footprint. The production of bicarbonate of soda is a dirty industry anyway so this process can help there and in real time the transport method to freight the coal to the power station could backload the waste to be sequestered in its mineralised form at the base of backfill in the mine workings. This could be the great step forward we need.

  2. I am chemical engineer and I did some calculations based on their reactions. Here are the results

    To treat carbon emission from a 500 MW plant, you need roughly 3.2 million tons of sodium hydroxide. For producing each ton of sodium hydroxide you need 2.4 MWh of electricity (Diaphragm process).Total electricity needed to produce sodium hydroxide is much more than the power plant produce. (Trust me…i checked my calculations million times) Then you have to transport and handle 6.7 million tons of baking soda. (150,000 truck loads) which will in turn emit carbon di oxide and monoxide !!!

    it took me 10 min to do these calculations. I cant believe this guy started a company without considering any of these. The worst thing is he even found a sponsor who gave him millions of dollars to try this out.

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