• Peer-Reviewed
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control · 2009

Low-energy sodium hydroxide recovery for CO₂ capture from atmospheric air—Thermodynamic analysis

Maryam Mahmoudkhani and David W. Keith

To reduce the risks of climate change, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases must be lowered. Direct capture of CO₂ from ambient air, ‘‘air capture’’, might be one of the few methods capable of systematically managing dispersed emissions. The most commonly proposed method for air capture is a wet scrubbing technique which absorbs CO₂ in an alkaline absorbent, i.e. sodium hydroxide producing an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate. In most of the previous works it was assumed that the absorbent would be regenerated and CO₂ liberated from the alkaline carbonate solution using a lime and calcium carbonate causticization cycle. We describe a novel technique for recovering sodium hydroxide from an aqueous alkaline solution of sodium carbonate and present an end-to-end energy and exergy analysis. In the first step of the recovery process, anhydrous sodium carbonate is separated from the concentrated sodium hydroxide solution using a two-step precipitation and crystallization process. The anhydrous sodium carbonate is then causticized using sodium tri-titanate. The titanate direct causticization process has been of interest for the pulp and paper industry and has been tested at lab- and pilot-scale. In the causticization process, sodium hydroxide is regenerated and carbon dioxide is liberated as a pure stream, which is compressed for use or disposal. The technique requires 50% less high-grade heat than conventional causticization and the maximum temperature required is reduced by at least 50 ℃. This titanate cycle may allow a substantial reduction in the overall cost of direct air capture.

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