Picarro Blog

Calera Corporation

Date: September 1, 2011

Matthew-Ginder Vogel, Research Scientist

LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA — We are a start up company based out of Los Gatos, California. Founded in 2007, Calera’s focus is capturing CO2 from stationary emitters- including power plants and cement plants- and permanently converting it to mineral forms. The ultimate goal is to develop valuable products, such as cementitious materials, out of the captured carbon dioxide. Because Calera’s chemistry involves several steps, with each step requiring additional materials and each resulting in a different end product, the technology is flexible, and has the potential to support a variety of projects and solutions. To date, the company has demonstrated success on a 0.1 MW coal pilot plant and a 10 MW natural gas plant at the research facility in Moss Landing, California. 

Calera is using Picarro's Combustion Module - Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy system to verify that the carbon dioxide removed from flue gas point sources is the same carbon dioxide that is sequestered in its green building products and not carbon dioxide from ambient sources. Picarro's unique capability of providing seamless software and hardware integration with an automated acidification front-end dramatically simplifies the verification process and enables Calera to verify batches with a minimal amount of wet chemistry and without instrumentation that requires far more calibration and more intensive highly technical hands-on management.

The heart of the Calera process is the formation of novel, metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals, similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants. This process entails capturing carbon dioxide from flue gas in an aqueous bath of Mg2+, Ca2+, Na+, Cl- and OH-. This converts the carbon dioxide into stable solid minerals. This novel process is referred to as "Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation", or MAP for short. After removal from the water and appropriate processing, the solids have value in a number of construction applications. MAP uses half the amount of input materials but still mineralizing carbon dioxide into an aqueous solution that can be injected underground for storage without the possibility of leakage of carbon dioxide.