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You Mean, No One Thought of This Before?
Tuesday, 2007 November 27 - 10:46 pm
Sodium hydroxide can be used to turn carbon dioxide emissions into baking soda. Warning: chemistry lessons to follow.

I've been reading about carbon dioxide sequestration strategies lately. There have been companies that have proposed the production of algae biomass (which can be turned into biodiesel and ethanol products), but today I read about a potentially more practical solution. Apparently, a company called Skyonic has come up with a commercial process to turn carbon dioxide emissions from a smokestack into pure, clean baking soda.

The process starts with ordinary salt water. When a sodium chloride solution is electrolyzed, sodium hydroxide builds up at the cathode.

2Na+ + 2H2O + 2e- -> H2 + 2NaOH

The chlorine ions from the sodium chloride are emitted at the anode, in the form of chlorine gas. Note that besides the sodium hydroxide, the reaction produces hydrogen gas and chlorine gas. Chlorine gas has many commercial applications, and hydrogen gas has potential as a fuel.

Once the sodium hydroxide is extracted, it can be used to scrub carbon dioxide (as well as other pollutants like hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide). The carbon dioxide removal is what has people most excited, what with all the global warming and stuff.

2NaOH + CO2 -> Na2CO3 + H2O

So in addition to salt water, you need electricity, and a source of carbon dioxide. What can give you that?


A coal-burning facility, or a facility that reforms coal into liquid fuels, produces a lot of carbon dioxide (and, for that matter, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide). The United States is sitting on possibly hundreds of years worth of coal energy, but the environmental impact of burning all that coal would be severe. A process like this, which would take salt water and coal and produce four useful products (baking soda, chlorine gas, hydrogen gas, and energy) seems like gold.

Now, the science behind this has been known for decades. Why has it taken so long to come up with this?

Republicans, no doubt.

Clean energy. Fresh-smelling refrigerators. It's like... heaven.
Permalink  2 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: science


Comment #1 from Steve (Guest)
2007 Nov 28 - 8:59 am : #
Chemistry! Your key to a brighter tomorrow!
Comment #2 from Brett (Guest)
2007 Nov 29 - 10:59 am : #
Now when my garage refrigerator starts smelling funky, I can just pull the car in the garage, back it up to the fridge, close the garage door for privacy, kick back, listen to some music, and catch some zzzzz's until my fridge smells good again.

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