Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.

Calera Video Transcript

Printer-friendly version

If we just lowered the carbon footprint of our existing technologies--cars,power plants, buildings, binderies, things like that--we're still destined to increase the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to veryhigh levels, and dangerous levels.

We actually have to reverse the equation. We have to sequester the CO2 and actively sequester the CO2, or the levels of CO2 inthe atmosphere will continue to rise and exponentially continue to rise. And this will result in what we've observed in both the ocean and atmosphere and the temperature of the earth.

Many climate monitors feel we need to mitigateabout 7 billion tons of CO2 going to the atmosphere every year, today. That's a couple of orders of magnitude, or more than the amount of CO2 humans have ever processed before.

So, taking that magnitude into the built environment,where we're producing 12 and a half tons of concrete ever year--concrete is the most commonly used building material--we actually can address the entire problem in the built environment.

Part of China's carbon dioxide emissions,which now exceed those of the United States come from the making of poured cement. What's exciting about the Calera process is that it's a scientifically plausible, economically sensible approach to solving both of these problems at once.

I'm not a scientist and I don't know exactly what the final cost of this process will be like. And cost is going to be very important. But I do know that the alternative approaches mostly being talked about--the idea that somehowwe will take these gasses which are a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide and all kinds of other things. We'll separate the carbon dioxide out, we'll liquify it, we'll pump it under ground and then we'll be fine.

That approach, which I cause ejection sequestration,just doesn't seem to be, even as a non-scientist, very plausible to make economic sense. Our process involves the natural equilibrium of carbon dioxide with sea water. And, fromthat we pull carbonate and carbonate. This natural process occurs on coral reefs every day where the photosynthesis of plants that live in the tissue of corals take CO2 out of sea water and which is how coral skeletons form. So, basically our process is akin to the native process of the formation of coral.

Is it possible, with this mentality, to sequestertens of thousands of billions of tons of carbon dioxide? Absolutely. Does that solve the carbonemission problem that is causing climate change? Absolutely.

So, in that sense, it's stunning in scope and impact. It produces building materials and it sequesters carbon. Those are two entirely different, but radical product lines that happen to be coupled together. Each by itself would be accomplished business.Together, it is almost to good to be true. It could be a simple idea. Clever chemistry,for sure. But very simple, logical idea. It didn't take me much to say, "Yeah, I wantto be part of this."

This is so game-changing, it can completely change the nature of the carbon problem this planet is currently dealing with. The terrific thing about the Calera process is that it uses the energy that has already been created as heat, even the flu gasses, to drive a chemical reaction which produces,not a potentially deadly liquid--speaking of carbon dioxide--but a potentially extraordinarilyvaluable product--cement. From what I see, there's enough power plants around the world--either on the shores ofthe oceans or in regions of the world where there is lots and lots of minerals in theground water, that you really ought to be able to replace most of the world's needs for submit with a biproduct of sequestering most of the worlds' power plant emissions of carbon dioxide.

That would be game-changing.