BURNABY, B.C.—NORAM Engineering and BC Research Inc. (BCRI) and Mantra Energy Alternatives have signed a deal to commission an electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction pilot plant at a Lafarge cement plant in British Columbia.
Mantra, a subsidiary of Mantra Venture Group Ltd., has been developing ERC technology since 2001, and this will be it’s first continuously operating plant in an industrial setting.
The ERC process converts carbon dioxide—the most prolific greenhouse gas—into useful chemicals such as formic acid and formate salts, which are used fabric dyeing; printing; as a buffering agent for strong mineral acids to increase their pH; as a food additive (E237); and as a de-iceing agent.
The pilot plant will convert 100 kilograms per day of the carbon dioxide emitted from the Lafarge plant into concentrated formate salts, which sell for around $1,500 per tonne.
“This will be the first pilot plant of its kind in the world,” says Patrick Dodd, Mantra’s vice-president of corporate development. “It will be a useful tool that we can adapt in the future to produce a range of different products from carbon dioxide.”
Procurement will begin in parallel with the detailed engineering, with certain long-lead time pieces of custom equipment being ordered and built early to facilitate a timely deployment of the plant.
“We are now in a position not only to complete the engineering, but also to simultaneously begin procurement, and to begin construction as soon as possible,” says Mantra president Larry Kristof.
BCRI, the R&D division of NORAM Engineering and Constructors, is providing engineering and scientific services in the scale up, demonstration phase and beyond.
Electro-reduction of carbon dioxide is a form of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) that converts carbon dioxide into valuable products.
By utilizing clean electricity, the process offers the potential for an industrial plant to reduce emissions while generating a new product.
The mixed-reactant fuel cell (MRFC) used in the project contains a mixture of fuel and oxidant that flows through the cell as a single stream. The mixed-feed concept allows for a variety of conventional and unconventional cell stack designs, including the Mantra’s patented “Swiss-roll” MRFC design.
The Swiss-roll MRFC design requires no expensive, platinum-based electrocatalysts. It also eliminates the need for failure-prone polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) and heavy, bulky bipolar plates. These adaptations significantly reduce the cost and increase the durability of the direct liquid fuel cell systems, while providing a high volumetric power density.
Simplification of MRFC systems is possible because they operate without the gastight structures within the stack that are required for sealing, manifolding, and separating reactant delivery in conventional fuel cells. As a result, MRFCs provide less expensive fuel cell systems with high volumetric power density.
Here is a video made by Mantra describing the process: