CMTA Installs first CarbinX Carbon Capture Units in the U.S.



CMTA Installs first CarbinX Carbon Capture Units in the U.S.

By Andrew Honeyman, PE

CMTA has partnered with CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota’s largest natural gas utility, to be part of a pilot program installing CarbinX Carbon Capture Units across Minnesota businesses. This includes an installation at the Radisson Blu Mall of America location, which is the first hotel in the world to install a CarbinX unit. This pilot program was created in an effort to explore new, cleaner energy technologies in the U.S. The CarbinX unit, which is currently used in Canada, captures greenhouse-gas emissions from heating equipment and turns the captured carbon into usable household products.

Here’s how the technology works: About as large as two mid-sized refrigerators, the CarbinX device is connected to the flue gas stream from natural gas-fired boilers or water heaters. A chemical reaction between the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the flue gas and potassium hydroxide (KOH) in the unit creates pearl ash or potassium carbonate (K2CO3). This not only captures carbon but also naturally adds heat to the flue gas as the reaction produces external heat. The added reaction heat along with heat from the initial flue gas combustion is also part of the heat-recovery process performed by the CarbinX unit used to pre-heat domestic water within a facility. The metered heat recovery data by CleanO2 shows a 20 percent reduction in natural gas consumption from domestic water heating. CleanO2 also estimates that each CarbinX unit may reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 20,000 pounds annually.

Even better, the pearl ash produced through the chemical reaction is reclaimed and recycled! The Canadian company, CleanO2, then utilizes the reclaimed pearl ash in the production of hand soap, detergents, and other cleaning products which are for sale to the public. Recycling pearl ash is yet another benefit of the carbon capture process, and, because the carbon in pearl ash is solid, it does not become a greenhouse gas again.

CenterPoint Energy is funding the pilot program in pursuit of its mission to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent over 2005 levels by 2035. The program is supported by funding through the Natural Gas Innovation Act, passed by the state legislature in 2021, which encourages gas companies to create and file “innovation plans” to decarbonize operations. Utilities can recover costs of pilot projects to use the results to meet the goals of Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program.

It isn’t often, if ever, you get to be a part of a “first in the world” project. CMTA is excited to partner with CleanO2 and CenterPoint Energy on this effort and be a leader in decarbonizing the built environment.

Current CarbinX units installed in Minnesota as part of the pilot program include:

  • Guardian Angels Senior Services, Elk River
  • Radisson Blu Mall of America, Bloomington – first hotel in the world with a CarbinX unit
  • Mystic Lake Casino – Prior Lake