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New process aimed at the capture of CO2 and SO2

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The University of Cadiz research group on Geosciences (RMN-373) has collaborated with the CSIC and the University of Seville in the development of a new process aimed at the capture of CO2 and SO2, gases that are responsible for the greenhouse effect; this process makes use of residues rich in calcium.

The process has been designed in such a way that residues of industrial origin are usefully employed as reagents.

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Description

Among the most promising technologies for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide is the fixing of CO2 in the form of insoluble inorganic carbonate (generally calcite). This is achieved by means of a chemical reaction known as carbonatation or mineral sequestration. Similarly, the current tendency in these processes is to employ residues rich in calcium in order to increase the technological and economic viability of the mineral sequestration of CO2. However one of the most serious disadvantages of this is the generation of calcite.

Further, the process that is currently employed most for the reduction of the SO2 in gaseous currents or exhausts originating from combustion is based in bringing the gas into contact with a gaseous suspension of mineral calcite.

Starting from these two problems and treating them together, the research group has designed a new process that enables them to be resolved by using the product of the mineral sequestration of CO2 (the calcite generated) for the fixing of SO2.

One part of this proposed solution begins with the reutilization of industrial residues rich in calcium hydroxide (wastes produced by the acetylene and paper- manufacturing industries), and the other part involves the revaluation and use of the products obtained from the sequestration of CO2, principally calcite.

The objective of this new procedure is the reduction of emissions of both CO2 and SO2, both being 'greenhouse gases' that need to be removed from the atmosphere. Moreover, the performance of the complete cycle will produce other substances capable of being used not only to generate the initial reagent but also in other commercial applications as a result of being revalued.

Therefore the invention presented comprises a procedure for the capture of CO2 and SO2 consisting of the following stages:

  • An aqueous current of a hydroxide (generally lime) and another gaseous current of carbon dioxide are introduced into a reactor column, where the CO2 is made to bubble through the aqueous current flow, giving rise to a carbonate (generally calcite).
  • The carbonate obtained in the first stage is then introduced in another bubbling reactor column, into which is injected a gaseous current, a mixture of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, to form the corresponding sulphite and carbon dioxide.
  • The sulphite from the preceding step is transformed into calcium sulphite (plaster or gypsum) by oxidation with air.
  • The carbon dioxide not consumed in the reaction is re-circulated and introduced again into the reactor column, in the second stage.

Advantages

  • It enables reutilization of the calcite obtained from the process of mineral sequestration of CO2.
  • Cycles of calcination /carbonatation are not necessary.
  • It enables the greenhouse gases treated to be fixed definitively.
  • The process has been designed in such a way that residues of industrial origin are usefully employed as reagents.
  • The gypsum generated can, in turn, be used to produce slaked lime, which can again be reused as an initial reagent in the process, and sodium sulphate, both products with commercial outlets.
  • The various different by-products generated, of industrial interest, are obtained separately, since the cycles of CO2 and SO2 capture are differentiated.

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