Uni unveil mineral carbonation pilot plant

A PILOT plant to turn carbon dioxide emissions into solid rock is planned for the University of Newcastle.

The process involved – mineral carbonation – attempts to take carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and other industrial plants and convert it into solid rock by mixing it with various chemicals and mineral reactants.

The Newcastle project is being unveiled at the university on Friday morning in a ceremony with Resources Minister Peter Hartcher and the chief executive of Orica, Ian Smith.

The company building the technology, Mineral Carbonation International Pty Ltd, has received funding to build a research pilot plant of the technology, and to undertake further research.

MCI chief executive Marcus St John Dawe said the technology had been proven in the lab and the research was designed to see if it can work commercially on a larger scale.

‘‘The major difference between this and geosequestration is that we are permanently transforming CO2, not just storing it underground,’’ Mr Dawe said.

MCI is described as a joint venture between GreenMag Group, Orica and Newcastle Innovation. 

The carbonation project is expected to run for four years with a budget of more than $9 million from the state and federal governments and Orica.

Mr Smith, the Orica chief executive, said Orica was already capturing some CO2 emissions at its Kooragang plant but had no  suitable disposal technologies.

The plant will be built at the university’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources.