Exploring alternative ways to capture carbon using enzymes | Global CCS Institute

CO2 Solution, in Quebec City, Canada is continuing its work to develop biology-based carbon capture technologies with Codexis, based in Redwood City, Calif.

The renewed partnership between CO2 Solution and Codexis, helped pave the way for the duo to establish a collaboration agreement with an unnamed global leader in energy and infrastructure projects. The collaboration agreement covers the development and testing of a pilot scale system for coal-fired power plants.

The process being developed by CO2 Solution and Codexis is adapted from a naturally occurring enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, which occurs in humans and other mammals and plays a crucial role in the transfer of carbon dioxide from out blood streams into the lungs to be released during process.

By adapting the enzyme to work within a heavy-duty reactor that can soak up carbon dioxide from industrial and power plant exhaust, the company has created a sort of “industrial lung”. Once the carbon dioxide is captured, the enzyme also assists in concentrating the gas into a pure stream, so it can be stored underground or used in oil recovery.

According to Codexis, its enzymes are functional and stable in relatively inexpensive and energy-efficient solvents for 24 hours at temperatures up to 75 degrees Celsius. In its natural state, the enzyme doesn’t function at these sorts of temperatures; it must do so to be able to process hot exhaust gases from power plants or factories.

The company anticipates that once its enzymes are fully developed, the solvents can cut the energy needed to capture CO2 within a plant by 30%. This improvement, says Codexis, can help lower the cost burden posed by carbon capture to 35% more than conventional power, a significant improvement over than the 80% premium current processes add.

The newly-extended joint development agreement between CO2 Solution and Codexis now lasts until June 30, 2012, or six months after the expiry of any third-party collaborations, whichever is later.