Lafarge cement plant eyed for carbon dioxide reduction project

A Surrey company will soon be using a Richmond cement manufacturing firm for a pilot project aimed at converting environmentally-harmful carbon dioxide emissions into useful chemicals.

Mantra Energy Alternatives has struck a deal with Lafarge Canada to deploy an electrochemical reduction technology at Lafarge’s No. 9 Road cement plant.

“This will be the first pilot plant of its kind in the world,” said Mantra’s vice-president Patrick Dodd in a press release.

Though Dodd could not be reached at press time, John Williams of Mantra parent company Mantra Venture Group told The Review Tuesday that if the system works as advertised, there’s the potential it could be deployed at all of Lafarge’s facilities around the world.

On paper, the technology would convert carbon dioxide, considered the most prolific greenhouse gas, into useful chemicals like formic acid and formate salts. The pilot plant would convert 100 kilograms per day of carbon dioxide emitted from the local cement plant into concentrated formate salts, which sell for about $1,500 per tonne.

Mantra is eying the formic acid for use in its patented fuel cells, which it bills as a significantly less expensive fuel cell with greater power density.

The technology was developed at the University of B.C. by Colin Oloman and Hui Li of the Clean Energy Research Centre at UBC. It was then purchased in 2008 by Mantra Venture Group.

Now that the deal betweeen Mantra and Lafarge has been signed, work will begin on the detailed engineering for the plant and the purchase of custom equipment.

“We are now in a position not only to complete the engineering, but also to simultaneously begin procurement, and to begin construction as soon as possible,” said Mantra president Larry Kristof.

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