A University of Newcastle research project that aims to address the world’s escalating carbon dioxide emissions by turning them into building products has attracted national attention.
Chemical engineering post-graduate researcher Reydick Balucan placed second at the 2010 Australian Institute for Energy (AIE) National Postgraduate Energy Awards in Adelaide where he showcased his project, Mineral Carbonation: Nation-Building with Carbon Dioxide for Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability.
The Priority Research Centre for Energy researcher is working with Professors Bogdan Dlugogorski and Eric Kennedy to explore ways to transform carbon dioxide released from coal-fired power stations into construction and industrial materials.
“The world’s increasing energy demand, predicted to rise by 40 per cent by 2030, involves developing technologies that are both sustainable and viable,” Mr Balucan said.
“As coal is essentially the country’s largest export commodity and principal energy source, reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the economy is vital.”
The carbonation process uses carbon dioxide to produce building materials. The carbonate products can be used in construction as bricks, pavers, cement additives, aggregates, silica and soil modifiers.
The project uses magnesium and calcium-rich silicate rocks to transform carbon dioxide, captured and separated from flue gas from coal-fired power plants, into useful products.
The large scale storage and reuse technology, known as carbonation, offers a permanent carbon dioxide solution especially to areas where geosequestration (geological storage) is unavailable, such as in NSW, ACT and parts of Queensland.
The process is also a source of valuable metals such as iron and aluminium for steel and other metal-making industries as well as an asbestos waste remediation method.
Mr Balucan took out the national accolade after winning the State competition. He competed against 28 postgraduate students in both AIE events. The awards were based on the researchers' poster presentation, a summary sheet and personal explanations to energy researchers and professionals during the AIE National Conference.
For interviews: Reydick Balucan on 0410 873260.