Industrial CO2, dolomite used to produce construction materials

Power plant emissions. (Reference image from Pxfuel.)

Researchers at Korea’s Chung-Ang University are proposing the idea of using industrial CO2 and dolomite – a common and abundant sedimentary rock that is a rich source of calcium and magnesium – for the production of two commercially viable products: calcium formate and magnesium oxide.

In a paper published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, the scientists explain that their carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology is based on a process that combines CO2 hydrogenation and cation exchange reaction for simultaneous metal oxide purification and high-value formate production.

In detail, they used a catalyst (Ru/bpyTN-30-CTF) to add hydrogen to CO2 to generate the two value-added products. Calcium formate, a cement additive, de-icing agent, and animal feed additive, is also used in leather tanning. Magnesium oxide, on the other hand, is extensively used in the construction and pharmaceutical industries. 

According to lead researchers Sungho Yoo and Chul-Jin Lee, the process was not only viable but also extremely rapid, yielding the products in just five minutes at room temperature. Moreover, his team estimated that this process could reduce global warming potential by 20% when compared to traditional calcium formate production methods.

The group also evaluated if their method could potentially replace the current production approaches by checking its environmental impact and economic feasibility. 

“Based on the results, we can say that our method offers an eco-friendly CO2 conversion alternative that could replace the conventional approaches, potentially contributing to the reduction of industrial CO2 emissions,” Yoon said.

The scientist pointed out that although converting CO2 into meaningful products sounds promising, these processes are not always easy to scale up. Most of the CCU technologies have not been commercialized owing to their low economic feasibility compared to the prevailing commercial processes. 

“We need to combine CCU processes with waste material recycling to make them both environmentally and economically beneficial. This may contribute to achieving a net-zero emissions goal in the future,” Lee said.


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