Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT) is part of the Prospect Mining Studio Spring 2020 cohort. The Calgary, Alberta-based company converts CO2 gas emissions into solid products from point sources such as power plants. Its proprietary technology chemically absorbs CO2 emissions into exfoliated inorganic solids to create a portfolio of fine nanoparticles.
I started CUT with my two co-founders, Greg Boser and Randy Cusson, to explore which options could help convert carbon emissions into advanced, valuable materials. The initial trigger was an open innovation competition launched by the Alberta government in Canada, and our motivation was to see if we could provide novel solutions to the global problem of climate change. The initial idea of using waste solid materials to sequester solids came after weeks of reviewing papers discussing conventional pathways to convert CO2 to chemicals and fuels.
As with energy production and construction, CO2 emissions and solid waste materials are a major issue in the mining industry. Tailings and mud, along with gaseous CO2, are legacies of mining projects across the world. Carbon Upcycling’s portfolio of technologies offers an energy-efficient method of converting these long-term liabilities into revenue streams derived from sustainable, advanced materials. Mining has already made important strides in using sustainable energy sources for its energy needs and utilizing more sustainable chemical pathways of treating ores. Carbon Upcycling’s technology offers them a pathway to enable a second generation of sustainability efforts.
The mineral mining and natural resource industries are, by definition, an extraction sector. From the advent of civilization, the mining and effective use of these natural resources has defined eras and forged dynasties. The naming convention of recent human history alone, (from the Stone, Bronze, Iron, and Industrial ages all the way out to the information age, which still uses an extensive amount of rare earth metals), signifies the singular importance of this industry to the modern world. Given this primary role that the natural resource sector plays in modern life, it is paramount that technologies like Carbon Upcycling’s and others can be utilized to make the extractive sector as sustainable as possible.
In Carbon Upcycling’s case, this specifically means valorizing the gaseous and solid wastes produced from the sector to lower its negative impacts while producing newer, more advanced products to sustain its relevance over the coming decades. Carbon Upcycling’s core vision has always been to convert the pollution of today into the materials of tomorrow and our technology provides an important platform to facilitate the mining industry’s advancement into the upcoming Carbon Age.
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