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5 Top Carbon Capture & Storage Startups Impacting The Energy Sector

United States, but this is precisely where some of the most genius minds in a booming industry have come together; carbon capture. Dr. Imbabi emphasizes that “one of the problems we face is that we need to respond to global emissions of 37 billion tons of CO 2 every year. Cement alone is not enough”.



carbon capture
Photo by Adrian Balasoiu on Unsplash

No one would think about finding realistic solutions to climate change at a coal fired power plant in Wyoming, United States, but this is precisely where some of the most genius minds in a booming industry have come together: carbon capture. They are investigating new techniques for capturing industrial CO 2 emissions to transform them into other sources of energy, improved concrete, carbon fibers and other highly valued materials, which would reduce their build up in the world’s atmosphere, working with different startups to achieve just that.

After several phases of competition, there are now just a handful of startups that are bidding for one of the two prizes which include several million dollars. These startups have to materialize their ideas to transform as much CO 2 as possible and they bet that their technologies are able to significantly reduce the harmful CO 2 that is emitted by different power plants and other businesses that emit this gas by using it together with other chemicals by product to create other sources of energy.

The International Authority on Climate Change has reported that to maintain the planet’s temperature in a range compatible with life, the reduction of carbon emissions from the industrial sector is a key factor in the global strategy to reduce emissions. CO 2. The simple adoption of renewable energy sources does not really translate to “zero emissions” and, on the other hand, while renewables are perfected we continue to have the same problem.

Mohammed Imbabi is a professor at the School of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen and is part of the British CCM team, a finalist in the competition: “People are very confused. Everyone is obsessed with renewable energy and trusts that nature will take care of redirecting the situation, but they need artificial devices with a huge carbon footprint. We are all headed for something that continues to pollute the environment. “

Something similar is the opinion of the CEO and the Founder of CO 2 Concrete, Gaurav N. Sant, who also leads the UCLA Carbon Upcycling team, made up of university researchers and professionals from the energy sector: “In these industries, the facilities (coal, gas natural, petrochemicals and even concrete mixing plants), have a high dependence on carbon. On the other hand, thanks to these plants we obtain basic products for the quality of our daily living. We cannot do without them. However, we can focus on a simple thing: to reduce their emissions into the atmosphere through new processes that take advantage of this residual CO 2”.

One of these new processes has to do with cement, a fundamental ingredient for the resistance of concrete that has become the main object of study for Sant’s team. This is an innovative method that could help reduce CO2 and improve the global climate by a considerable margin.

Carbon capture, harvesting and storage processes are nothing new, but they were economically unviable before the latest enhancements in relevant sciences and as well as the field of chemical engineering on the use of CO2. This may seem like a basic thing, but it plays a very important role altogether in how CO2 is reused.  

Intuitively, it does not appear that cement production offers many possibilities for carbon storage. As Sant points out, it has always been a large scale industrial process: the intensive manufacture of concrete from Portland cement emits a large amount of gaseous CO 2 and the blast production furnaces require very high energy input to reach a reaction temperature. up to 1400 degrees centigrade.

But research on CO 2 mineralization (the transformation of gaseous CO 2 into solid carbonates) has brought good news in terms of costs and emissions. The CO 2 Concrete system channels the flow of flue gases from factory chimneys into a chamber similar to a convection oven that operates at ambient pressure and temperature. Diluted CO 2 is used to form a cementing agent containing up to 60% carbon by weight without the need to go through the prohibitive carbon capture phase.

The concrete produced by this CO 2 mineralization is “very similar from a functional and economic point of view to that produced using traditional techniques,” Sant explains. And when institutional aid is included in the analysis of return-on-investment models, the new process is much more profitable than the old one, even without taking into account penalties and taxes on carbon.

Sant believes that if these techniques were applied on a large scale, he could take a good bite out of the nearly 2.7 billion tonnes of CO 2 emissions produced each year by cement companies and reduce them by about 1 billion tonnes.

Sant is not the only defender of the incredible possibilities of carbon capture, storage and use. The Department of Energy US has invested thousands of dollars in this technology and has funded several projects of research and development. By taking different steps to eventually improve the climate and playing a more team oriented role across the globe, such startups can help reduce CO 2 in the atmosphere by a considerable margin.

But, these are not the only companies that are playing an important role in harnessing carbon and using it to improve the climate. Here are 5 others.

1.      See O2 Energy – Innovative Carbon Capture Practices

See O2 Energy is a Canadian startup that’s focusing on converting CO 2 and water into value added products that can be used to generate heat, fuel, power, and oxygen. It’s an innovative business that’s trying to improve carbon capture practices and improve the climate.

2.      Mirreco

Then, you have Mirreco. Based in Australia, this is one of the most innovative startups that’s using polymers to create hemp CAST, a hybrid product using CO 2 and hemp. Its patented technology is likely to help companies reduce carbon emissions dramatically.

3.      Deep Branch Biotech

Deep Branch Biotech is focused on creating solutions that help reduce CO 2 while simultaneously generating more energy, thus helping businesses cut down on their carbon footprint while never compromising on their energy needs.

4.      Hexas Biomass

Then, you have Hexas Biomass, a US based startup that’s selling non wood biomass feedstock. They use considerable amounts of CO 2 to create sustainable materials including boards, panels, biogas, and energy pellets.

5.      Carbonfree Chemicals

Carbonfree Chemicals is a company that uses proprietary tech to cut down on carbon emissions and produce sodium bicarbonate, bleach, and caustic soda as a result. Their tech is also capable of removing other heavy metals from the environment.

Meanwhile, startups are struggling with each other to excel and differentiate their business models, attract public and private capital, and grow as quickly as possible. Among the most advantageous is the finalist Carbon Cure, a Canadian company that has partnered with concrete manufacturers from some 150 plants around the world. Most businesses that are not playing a role yet are likely to be sanctioned as the world gears up for the possibility of a CO 2 free future.

Obviously, there’s no such as thing as an atmosphere with no carbon in it, but businesses can focus on reducing the considerable amount of CO 2 that they release out into the atmosphere, whereas such innovative startups can help reuse the carbon already in the atmosphere.


Thanks to the investment of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund (a billion dollar fund led by Bill Gates), concrete manufacturers acquire CO 2 in a gaseous state in cylinders similar to those used by soft drink manufacturers. CO 2 is channeled through a two unit injection system that can be incorporated into existing concrete mixing and kneading facilities.

The resulting product is an improved ultra strong concrete that contains an average of almost 15 kg of CO 2 per cubic meter. Some XPRIZE finalists, such as CCM, aspire to use captured carbon in more diverse industrial applications. Dr. Imbabi emphasizes that “one of the problems we face is that we need to respond to global emissions of 37 billion tons of CO 2 every year. Cement alone is not enough”.

The machine that CCM wants to present in the final phase of the competition is valued at 2.25 million euros and converts CO 2 into precipitated calcium carbonate that can be used in plastics, pharmaceutical and food products, enamels for paper, toothpaste and other apps. Through a reaction between diluted CO 2 and magnesium brine from various sources, such as crude oil and natural gas processing plants, this technique also makes it possible to obtain precipitated magnesium carbonate, a light and fire retardant compound that they want to apply in construction panels and products. insulators.

It remains to be seen if CCM’s technological versatility gives them the boost they need to outperform their XPRIZE competitors when the winner is announced in June 2020, but the variety of proposals and ingenuity displayed by all these finalists make it clear that much remains. to be done in the field of carbon capture. Hopefully, a future in which carbon emissions are truly zero is possible. Thanks to the efforts of these startups, carbon capture in an efficient manner now seems more than possible.

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