Professor’s technology freezes CO2 to reduce emissions

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A BYU professor is developing a technology that separates carbon dioxide from other gases which will reduce CO2 emissions to address pollution caused by power plants.

President Obama announced, in August, the Clean Power Plan, the first plan to set national standards for power plants. According to the plan, “setting carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants and enabling states to develop tailored implementation plans to those goals” will help the U.S.¬†reduce carbon dioxide emission by 32 percent by 2030.

Larry Baxter, a chemical engineering professor, has developed a method for efficiently freezing the CO2 at extreme temperatures, causing it to separate from other gases.

Cooling exhausts of such systems create snowflake-like forms out of the carbon dioxide according to Baxter. The CO2 snowflakes are pressurized and turn into slurry a solid suspended in a liquid. Underground reserves safely store the slurry to be reused.

“This is a very important energy storage system,” Baxter said. Energy produced by wind fields will also be able to be stored and reused the next day with this technology.

The basic idea for the system came to Baxter while on sabbatical in 2007. He had been working with people who were also interested in controlling CO2 and using the biomass for fuel.

Baxter quickly patented his idea and organized Sustainable Energy Solutions, a company working on developing his idea in 2008. Company employees, Interns, and BYU students continue to work with Baxter to perfect this system.

The team has built their fifth generation of the system and it is “quite large” according to Baxter, “It takes 2-3 tractor-trailers to move it,” he said. Their hope is to build it at full scale in five years and to have the system operating in seven.

“Our grand goal is to change the technology on all power plants and be able to capture the pollutants from other outputs such as cars, homes and industries,” Baxter said.

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