Global Thermostat’s own promotional materials mention two applications: using gaseous CO2 to carbonate soft drinks, and using the captured carbon to make baking soda for cattle feed and hydrochloric acid, which is also used in the food sector. Skyonic is currently using GT’s technology to do the latter. In addition, liquid CO2 is used widely in the food industry for refrigeration and preservation of meats and frozen foods. Gaseous CO2 is used to improve the shelf life of certain kinds of packaged foods, in a mixture of gases called MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging), which has very little oxygen. CO2 is also be used to remove the caffeine from coffee beans to make them decaf. The food industry is a large industry for CO2; according to gasworld.com, in developed economies, 30-40% of commercial CO2 use is for food production.
Conventional plastic production doesn’t seem to use much CO2, but the industry is developing ways to create plastic directly from CO2 gas. Ford is using captured carbon from its plants to create plastics and foams for car parts. The US Department of Energy recently subsidized a project that successfully converted CO2 into a plastic polymer at a large scale, with the company Novomer.
CO2 generators are used by commercial greenhouse keepers to raise the carbon concentration of the air to higher than the levels in Earth’s atmosphere, which increases yields. Currently carbon is usually generated through fungus or dry ice, but the gas produced by GT’s technology could be used to directly add carbon to the air.
It doesn’t appear that CO2 will be particularly useful in this market, since methods of production of biofertilizers don’t include carbon dioxide. In a common case, carbon dioxide is purposely removed. There may be some ongoing research or trials that use carbon to create fertilizer.
The industrial gas sector is concerned with producing large quantities of pure gases that are commonly used in industry, which is exactly what GT’s technology does. In most cases, CO2 is produced and used in either liquid form or solid form (dry ice pellets or “rice”). To be most useful and competitive in this sector, the carbon collected by the technology should be converted to either of those forms. Relatively recent research from the University of Delaware has converted carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, which is a gas used in industrial applications as well.
Like the plastics industry, the synthetic fuel sector contains a lot of potential but doesn’t currently support a lot of CO2 use at the moment. However, it has been theorized to use CO2 in order to create methanol, a liquid synthetic fuel. In addition, Audi just set up a pilot plant to combine water and carbon dioxide into diesel fuel for use in car engines, called “blue crude,” or “e-diesel.” That fuel seems to be more energy-efficient than fossil fuels.
While conventional desalination methods don’t use CO2 gas, a Yale team has successfully set up a pilot plant for desalination that uses carbon dioxide and ammonia. That process requires a tenth as much energy as standard desalinization techniques. On a related note, CO2 could be useful in water re-mineralization as well, which must happen after desalination. A common problem with desalination is that it produces pure water, devoid of certain minerals. An Australian plant has found a way to use CO2 to re-mineralize the water, making it healthy to drink and use for agriculture
CO2-EOR works by pumping carbon dioxide gas underground to “push” crude oil out to be extracted, improving the yield of oil fields. It is usually done with naturally occurring carbon dioxide, but also has been performed using carbon dioxide created through industrial processes, like GT’s technology. It is used after the primary and secondary means of production, to squeeze almost every drop of oil out of the ground.
In the building materials sector, most applications for CO2 are still in the research phase. There is an Australian group of scientists that have developed a way to take captured carbon emissions and convert them into carbonate rock, which could potentially be used as green materials in the construction industry. Research at George Washington University found a way to convert carbon dioxide into carbon nanofibers that can strengthen materials to build planes and cars. The concept has yet to be proven viable on a commercial scale. Researchers at UCLA found a way to convert carbon dioxide into a concrete-replacement using 3D printing.