Australia’s coal industry research and development fund COAL21 is recommending authorities to support the adoption of a carbon sponge technology that offers cheaper emissions reductions. The suggestion is part of the industry group’s strategy to comply with the country’s climate targets while still ensuring a future for coal-fired power generation. In detail, COAL21 has committed to invest A$555 million in the development of low-emissions technologies that are to be implemented in both mines and power plants. The carbon sponge technology was developed by Canadian firm CO2 Solutions Inc. (TSXV: CST) and it uses the carbonic anhydrase enzyme -which is naturally present in humans and all living organisms- to dramatically accelerate carbon dioxide capture.
The way it works is one in which the system employs salt solutions that, when combined with enzymes and heat from hot water, act as a carbon sponge to separate carbon from the solution. The heated solution is then cooled and recycled to capture more carbon.
In an initial test commissioned by COAL21, the technology proved to be suited for carbon reduction at coal-based industrial plants, such as those processing iron and steel, and cement, using low-grade heat, while at the same time being environmentally friendly.
“If Australia is to meet its Paris Agreement emissions reduction commitments, investments in improved carbon capture technologies are vital while ensuring that business and households are not disadvantaged,” the group said in a media statement. Back in 2015, Australia committed to lowering its carbon emissions to 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030.