A single large coal-, gas- or oil-fired power plant produces more than 300,000 tons of CO2 in a year. Pass that CO2 through SkyMine, and you've got yourself more than 600,000 tons of baking soda. And there are more than 10,000 of those power plants in
Hydrogen and chlorine have major industrial markets -- domestic demand is at more than $70 billion combined (mostly for the hydrogen) [source: Skyonic]. But baking soda? That's cheap stuff. Even considering that SkyMine reportedly produces purer baking soda than what's currently on the shelves in grocery stores, and it's commonly used as an industrial abrasive, we're not even close to consuming what SkyMine can create.
This is where the crystalline benefit comes in. As opposed to liquids and gases, solids are a cinch to store. Baking soda is stable. Used as coal-mine filler or dumped in landfills, it's not going to pollute the soil or leak into the air. You don't even need to pipe it in; you can just load it into cargo transports and drop it into the desired location. Also, with all that carbon-capture baking soda on the market, baking soda companies can stop mining the stuff, which is an expensive process in itself.
With all of its upsides, the fact remains that SkyMine technology is a major initial investment. The device itself, once it's out of the prototype stage, will go for about $400 million U.S. That's about the cost of the scrubbers that power plants have already bought and currently use to remove mercury and smog chemicals from their exhaust streams. But Skyonic points out that SkyMine will be able to replace these scrubbers, eliminating tens of millions of dollars of annual scrubber operating costs each year along with any federal or state carbon taxes. SkyMine could maybe even help the power plant turn a profit with sales of hydrogen, chlorine and baking soda.
Far-fetched as it may seem to save the world with baking soda, SkyMine is not just a theory. Texas power giant Luminant has already signed on, conducting trials with a prototype SkyMine since early 2007. According to Steve Guengerich of AustinStartup's CleanTech Friday, SkyMine currently looks like a couple of trailer homes with a pipe coming out of them, and the device is mostly handmade [source: Austin Startup].
Skyonic expects to get out of trial stage and start selling much prettier SkyMines commercially by the end of 2010. If the energy industry gets on board, we could be looking at a greener, cleaner, better-smelling world to come. A world where coming up with new recipes that call for baking soda can earn you carbon credits. A world where eating cake is just the right thing to do.
For more information on global warming, green technology and lots of recipes that use baking soda, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Associated Content: What Would the World Be Without Baking Soda? (Jan 26, 2008). http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/565801/what_would_the_world_be_without_baking.html
- Austin Business Journal: TXU takes stake in Skyonic, will test pollution system in '07 (Dec. 15, 2006). http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2006/12/18/story10.html
- CarbonPositive: Baking soda: New CCS option (Nov. 30, 2007). http://www.carbonpositive.net/viewarticle.aspx?articleID=919
- CleanTech: Skyonic: Making Lemonade from Toxic Lemons (Aug. 3, 2007). http://austinstartup.typepad.com/austin_startup/2007/08/skyonic-making-.html
- CNET News.com: Can baking soda curb global warming? (November 27, 2007) http://www.news.com/Can-baking-soda-curb-global-warming/2100-13838_3-6220127.html?tag=cd.top
- GreenDaily: Baking soda slow down to global warming. (Dec. 27, 2007). http://www.greendaily.com/2007/12/29/baking-soda-slow-down-to-global-warming/
- PopSci.com: Baking Soda: The Cure for Global Warming? (November 27, 2007). http://www.popsci.com/article/2007-11/baking-soda-cure-global-warming#
- Power Engineering: TXU, Skyonic to test technology that reduces CO2 emissions. http://pepei.pennnet.com/display_article/279895/6/ARCHI/none/none/1/TXU,-Skyonic-to-test-technology-that-reduces-CO-2--emissions
- The Register: Only bicarbonate of soda can save mankind! (November 27, 2007). http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/27/carbon_hide_it_in_bicarb/
- Skyonic: The SkyMine Process.http://skyonic.com/whatWeDo.php
- ScientificBlogging: Baking Soda: Removes stains, odors, and combats Global Warming (Jan. 23, 2008). http://www.scientificblogging.com/the_science_of_motherhood/baking_soda_removes_stains_odors_and_combats_global_warming