26 August 2013 — The University of Newcastle has been awarded $9 million to research a novel method of turning carbon emissions into bricks that could have application in the construction industry.
The process of “mineral carbonation” will be tested at a research pilot plant to be built at the university’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources. The ultimate goal, say researchers, is to transform CO2 into carbonate rock “bricks”, dealing with both carbon emissions and the need for new green building materials.
“The key difference between geosequestration and ocean storage and our mineral carbonation model is we permanently transform CO2 into a usable product, not simply store it underground,” research team member Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski said.
He said the research pilot plant would allow for large scale testing and would determine cost savings and emission reductions compared with other methods of storing CO2.
The mineral carbonation technology replicates the Earth’s carbon sink mechanism by combining CO2 with low grade minerals such as magnesium and calcium silicate rock to make inert carbonates.
“The Earth’s natural mineral carbonation system is very slow,” research team member Professor Eric Kennedy said. “Our challenge is to speed up that process to prevent CO2 emissions accumulating in the air in a cost-effective way.”
The funding has been provided by the NSW government, federal government and Orica. The project is being managed by Mineral Carbonation International, a partnership between Newcastle Innovation, the GreenMag Group and Orica.