The Anonymous Widower

UK’s Largest Carbon Capture Project Will Turn 40,000 Tonnes Of CO2 Into Sodium Bicarbonate For Dialysis Machines, Pharmaceutical Tablets And Baking Soda Every Year

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Daily Mail.

These bullet points summarise the article.

  • A facility that turns carbon dioxide into sodium bicarbonate was opened today
  • Tata Chemicals Europe will remove up to 40,000 tonnes of CO2 each year
  • The resulting sodium bicarbonate will be used as baking soda and in tablets
  • Much of it will be used in haemodialysis to treat people with kidney disease

When I worked at ICI in Runcorn, the company had a facility at Winnington.

  • In the 1960s, when I was there the main product was soda ash, which was produced by the Solvay process.
  • The plant is now owned by Tata Chemicals Europe, and I suspect the new process is a replacement for the Solvay process.
  • The carbon dioxide probably comes from a local 94 MW gas-fired power station on the site.

This ia a good example of Carbon Capture and Use, where a modern process is much better for the environment.

How much better could we protect the environment and the health of everyone, by improving or changing industrial processes?

Memories of the Solvay Process

I went over one of the Solvay processes a couple of times, when I worked at Runcorn.

  • I can’t remember why now, but it was probably just to give the newest engineer in the department some experience.
  • ICI trained me well at that time, especially in Health and Safety.
  • One of the Victorian plants, I went over was built using a framework of oak beams, rather than the steel, we’d use today.
  • The thing, that I remember most was the white sodium bicarbonate powder everywhere at the finishing end.

All the grades had uses from baking down to clearing up acid spills. Wikipedia details these uses.

Solvay Process Repurposed

Searching the Internet for more information on Tata Chemicals Europe’s process, I found this article on Scientific American, which is entitled Desalination Breakthrough: Saving The Sea From Salt.

The first paragraph outlines the problem.

Farid Benyahia wants to solve two environmental problems at once: excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and excess salt in the Persian Gulf (aka the Arabian Gulf). Oil and natural gas drive the region’s booming economies—hence the excess CO2—and desalination supplies the vast majority of drinking water, a process that creates concentrated brine waste that is usually dumped back into the gulf.

Benyahia, who is a chemical engineer at Qatar University appears to have solved the problem, by repurposing and simplifying the Solvay process.

I suggest that if you’ve got this far, that you read the Scientific American article all the way through, as it paints a horrific vision of the dangers of water desalination.

Hopefully, though Benyahia has the solution, which turns the problem into baking soda and calcium chloride.

We Can Suck CO2 From The Air And Store It In The Ocean As Baking Soda

The title of this section is the same as that of this article on New Scientist.

I first heard about this process on Radio 5.

It concerns some work by Arup Sen Gupta at LeHigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

He seems the sort of researcher, who does it properly and his research on capturing carbon dioxide and turning it into baking soda, that is stored in the ocean may well be an idea in the right direction.

It further supports my view that research will find new and better ways of reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.


March 9, 2023 - Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , ,

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