Home Climate Firm uses carbon dioxide from own plant to make baking soda

Firm uses carbon dioxide from own plant to make baking soda

An Indian company based in the southern state of Kerala is attracting global interest after its ability to capture carbon dioxide from its own coal-powered plant and converts it into baking soda was publicised.

A Guardian report said the achievement by Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, located in Tuticorin, was all the more notable as it was not receiving any government subsidy to implement its method of carbon emission conversion and installation of the machinery needed for the same.

The report said the company claimed to be able to capture 60,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Carbon capture and storage has until now focused on forcing the emissions into underground rocks at a very high cost and no economic benefit. The Tuticorin plant is claimed to be the first instance of carbon capture and utilisation.

The plant has been able to overcome the expense for stripping out the CO2 from flue gas by using a new chemical. Though it is only marginally more efficient than amine - the chemical of choice for carbon capture and storage - its inventors, Carbonclean, claim it needs less energy, is less corrosive and also needs less machinery.

Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals now has the new machinery installed and used the CO2 from its own boiler to produce baking soda, a chemical used in manufacturing glass, sweeteners, detergents and paper products.

The report quoted the company's managing director, Ramachandran Gopalan, as telling BBC Radio 4: "I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it."

The people behind Carbonclean are chemists from the Indian Institute of Science at Kharagpur. They failed to find a financial backer in India and instead set up shop in London's Paddington district under the UK's plan to welcome entrepreneurs.

Carbonclean chief executive Aniruddha Sharma was quoted as saying: "“So far the ideas for carbon capture have mostly looked at big projects, and the risk is so high they are very expensive to finance. We want to set up small-scale plants that de-risk the technology by making it a completely normal commercial option."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.