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New Uses for CO2 Highlighted During 3rd International Conference on Carbon Recycling

NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., highlighted how research efforts have supported the development of new ways to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful products during the 3rd International Conference on Carbon Recycling.

Held in a virtual setting Oct. 4, participants at this year’s International Conference on Carbon Recycling included a mix of government, energy producer, and small business representatives that are united in their support of carbon conversion efforts, which is a key technology for realizing carbon neutrality. The conference also served to strengthen cooperation and share information between stakeholders from multiple countries around the globe. Anderson was a speaker on the panel, “Technologies for the Future, Expectation by Investment,” that highlighted NETL supported research and development projects putting CO2 to economic use.

For example, NETL researchers have used microwave reactors to convert CO2 and natural gas into value-added products such as hydrogen and synthesis gas. These products can serve as a lower carbon intensity feedstock for fuels and products. NETL’s unique microwave catalysis will allow development of modular reactors that use excess electricity from renewable power sources for on-demand chemical production. This is an example of how the Lab’s innovations address CO2 emissions in a versatile manner, making them more attractive to the private sector. Currently, NETL is engaging with industry partners for pre-pilot scale evaluation while pursuing patent applications.

“With more than 1,300 incredibly talented employees supporting more than 1,000 R&D projects in 50 states with a total award value of $5 billion, our Lab is in a strong position to contribute solutions to the world’s climate and energy problems, including innovations in transforming CO2 from a liability into an asset,” Anderson said. “NETL is dedicated to working toward a decarbonized economy, and the International Conference on Carbon Recycling provided an exciting glimpse of research programs around the world and an avenue for our Lab to engage with new potential partners.”

Anderson also discussed how CO2 can play a role in the infrastructure and construction industries of tomorrow. NETL supported and cooperated with UCLA’s CarbonBuilt team at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center to develop a process to create concrete masonry units using CO2 from power plant flue gas without the need for a carbon capture step. Each CarbonBuilt concrete block stores about three-quarters of a pound of CO2, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of concrete products.

The CarbonBuilt technology uses a carbonation process known as mineralization, which transforms gaseous CO2 from power plant flue gas and other sources into stable carbonate solids that bind the components in the concrete. UCLA’s CarbonBuilt was one of two winners of the XPRIZE Global Competition this year out of 47 entries from seven countries.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.