Reducing carbon emissions using waste marble powder

July 27, 2016, American Chemical Society
Credit: American Chemical Society

The ongoing fraud investigation into the nearly $7 billion Mississippi clean coal plant has sparked debate on whether carbon capture is a viable technology. But to lesser fanfare, other industrial efforts to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere are moving forward successfully. Now scientists report in ACS' journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research a new approach to accomplishing this while also cleaning up waste from the marble industry.

Many countries including the U.S. are pursuing as part of their strategy to reduce global emissions of (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. One of the most promising technologies to do this is called calcium looping. The process scrubs CO2 from flue gases by using calcium-oxide-based sorbents. But current sorbents—natural or synthetic—are either expensive or lose their effectiveness over many cycles. So scientists are investigating alternate materials, including industrial byproducts. If successful, this route could help clean up both carbon emissions and waste at the same time. Carla I.C. Pinheiro and colleagues wanted to test this strategy using the powder waste created in large amounts by cutting and polishing marble, a popular stone for such uses as countertops and flooring.

In lab-scale testing, the researchers found that waste marble powder performed better than a current commercial calcium-carbonate sorbent as a material for capturing CO2. The marble powder initially showed about 90 percent of carbonation conversion compared to 78 percent by the commercial sorbent. And over 10 cycles of reuse, the powder sorbent's reactivity declined by about 36 to 44 percent while the commercial material's performance dropped by 50 percent.

Explore further: Chemists make breakthrough in carbon capture

More information: Carla I. C. Pinheiro et al. Waste Marble Powders as Promising Inexpensive Natural CaO-Based Sorbents for Post-Combustion COCapture, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2016). DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.5b04574

There are currently no studies in the literature on the use of natural waste marble powder (WMP) resources as inexpensive sorbents for looping cycle CO2 capture. The high volume of marble production is associated with considerable amounts of WMP generated as byproduct during cutting and polishing procedures, which negatively impacts the surrounding environment. The main goal and innovative idea addressed in this study consists of investigating if solid wastes WMP from marble producer sources can be used as possible inexpensive and effective solid materials to be used as precursors of CaO-based sorbents in Ca-looping cycle CO2 post-combustion capture process. The cyclic carbonation–calcination reactions were experimentally studied in a laboratory-scale fixed-bed reactor unit for 10 and 20 cycles. The innovative and interesting results obtained show that Portuguese WMP represents a category of promising natural inexpensive solid sorbents to be used as effective CaO-based sorbents for looping cycle CO2 post-combustion capture, because of their increased CO2 carrying capacity and better cyclic stability with lower sorbent deactivation with the number of cycles, when compared with commercial CaCO3 reference sorbent precursor and with other natural and synthetic CaO-based sorbents, and other CaO-solid-based materials from industrial and natural wastes recovery, reported in the literature. The WMP resources have potential to be an economically attractive option thus contributing to reduce the cost of the Ca-looping cycle CO2 capture process, as well as to minimize the adverse environmental impacts of the high volume of WMP generated in the marble producers.

Related Stories

Chemists make breakthrough in carbon capture

July 4, 2016

Scientists from the University of York have developed an innovative new green method of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations, chemical and other large scale manufacturing plants.

New crystal material captures carbon from humid gas

October 15, 2015

A new material with micropores might be a way to fight climate change. Scientists have created crystals that capture carbon dioxide much more efficiently than previously known materials, even in the presence of water. The ...

Sorbents capturing CO2 will make power plants cleaner

October 18, 2013

When coal is used to generate electricity in power plants, carbon from the coal bonds with oxygen from air to make carbon dioxide (CO2). Due to concerns about how CO2 impacts global climate, scientists at DOE's National Energy ...

Nanomaterial to help reduce CO2 emissions

July 9, 2013

University of Adelaide researchers have developed a new nanomaterial that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations.

Carbon-trapping 'sponges' can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture – chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it releases into the atmosphere – is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.