Carbozyme, a NJ-based company is trying to mimic a phenomenon that happens when you breathe: capturing CO2 via a naturally occurring blood enzyme. Our body captures about two pounds of carbon dioxide per day – scaled-up industrial systems could do a lot more if put up properly.
The enzyme is called “carbonic anhydrase”, and its role in the human body is to convert the CO2 into bicarbonate for easier transport to the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, the carbonic anhydrase does the reverse: it turns the molecules back into the CO2 gas you exhale. At this step, the CO2 could be captured and sequestrated.
Carbozyme created a synthetic version of carbonic anhydrase, coated millions of microscale porous tubes with it, and is doing lab tests. As smoke passes through the tubes, the enzyme captures the CO2 from it, turns it into bicarbonate and back, then it isolates it, getting ready for pumping and storing it into layers of basalt rock.
This system is also cleaner than currently existing methods of CO2 sequestration, since it uses a third less energy. Other approaches use hazardous chemicals to grab the CO2. Carbozyme is even planning a pilot project for next year, to run their technology on coal burners at the University of North Dakota, and helping coal become cleaner.
I know this is only a patch to the true problem, but it’s still better than nothing.