We EcoGeeks are always on the lookout for ways to economically and safely store carbon dioxide. We want to â€œput it in a lock boxâ€ and never let it out. One promising technology for doing just that, with useful side effects, has been developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
This new process transforms common concrete by treatment with carbon dioxide under high pressure, to make a very strong, nearly impermeable building material that is chemically similar to coral.
The CO2 is pressurized until it is pretty much half gas and half liquid. The process can also make inexpensive building products out of waste materials, including fly ash from coal-burning power plants, alum sludge from water treatment plants and blast furnace slag.
That's right, using trapped ash from coal plants, and the CO2 they emit, we can create an almost indestructible lightweight building material. Lordy that's cool.
The patented process may lead to new building materials, consumer goods, auto parts and other products. According to the website supramics.com, the process creates recyclable materials that will be competitive with metals, plastics and wood products.
Los Alamos demonstrated the effect of supercritical carbon dioxide with two chunks of bonded fly ash, a waste product from coal-burning power plants. Set in a pan of water, the untreated sample quickly crumbles and dissolves. The treated sample, however, remains impervious to the water. Treated fly ash could make a strong, lightweight and economically attractive material for wall board, flooring and other construction products.
The process also converts much of the CO2 into stable carbonate minerals. Each concrete block treated with supercritical C02 can permanently store over a pound of carbon dioxide.
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