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Pulverized rocks used to strip CO2 from large emitting plants

Research will reduce GHG emissions and increase company bottom lines

Quebec City, QC, Canada, December 2012 — Researchers in Quebec are developing a process that would see steel, coal and cement plants as well as oil and gas facilities remove most of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from their emissions through chemical reactions with various types of crushed rocks in the stacks.

The project is adapting and improving the process by which CO2 reacts with different minerals to form carbonates, a benign but valuable by-product that can then be sold to other commercial operations.

Lead investigator Dr. Guy Mercier, of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), says he and his team are developing an economically attractive process that could easily be integrated into existing facilities and use simple and abundant rocks, waste concrete or tailings from mines in Quebec. Carbon Management Canada (CMC), a federal Network of Centres of Excellence that supports research to reduce CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large stationary emitters, is providing Mercier and his team $300,000 over two years.

“You take the waste material, the rock, concrete or mine tailings, and crush it to make a powder and then you send that powder up the chimney with the gas,” says Mercier. “The resulting chemical reaction removes 80 per cent of the CO2.”

It also forms carbonate byproducts that can be sold to a variety of different industries for use as a refractory material or as an alcaline agent in wastewater treatment. “This will allow companies to profit while sequestering CO2, says Mercier. “They can create new jobs instead of creating pollution.”

“It’s a lower cost, low pressure, low temperature technology that doesn’t require capturing purified CO2,” Mercier says.  “There are a lot of engineering challenges in this but we are well on our way to achieving success.”

Mercier is working with an international team of researchers from INRS, the University of Calgary and the University of Melbourne. The project is also being undertaken with industrial partners Holcim Canada, a building materials and construction company, and SIGMA DEVTECH, a consulting company for startups. The research team will be reacting various magnesium and calcium rocks available in mine tailings mines with the gaseous emissions (containing CO2) of a Holcim cement plant with the participation of the cement plant staff in a chemical reactor (a plant in itself).

In its 2012 round of funding, CMC is awarding $3.75 million to Canadian researchers working on 8 different projects. The awards were made after a rigorous, international, peer-reviewed process.

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To contact Dr. Mercier:

Gisèle Bolduc, Communications Advisor
Communications and Public Affairs, INRS
Quebec City, QC, Canada
T: 418 654-3817
E: gisele.bolduc@adm.inrs.ca

For information about Carbon Management Canada:

Ruth Klinkhammer, CMC Communications Director
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T: 403.210.7879
E: ruth.klinkhammer@cmc-nce.ca
W: www.cmc-nce.ca

About Carbon Management Canada

Carbon Management Canada (CMC) is a national network that funds research and promotes the transfer to practice of knowledge and technologies to reduce CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large stationary emitters. CMC has over 160 investigators, network agreements with 27 Canadian universities, and has invested $22 million in 44 research projects.

About INRS

Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS) is a graduate and postgraduate research and training university. First in Canada in terms of research intensity (grants per professor), INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows in its centres in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. INRS research teams conduct fundamental research essential to the advancement of science in Quebec as well as internationally and play a critical role in developing concrete solutions to problems facing our society.