The California Energy Commission has awarded more than $15 million in grants for electric vehicles, carbon capture connected to a power plant and water savings technology. That’s in addition to $10.5 million awarded this week to the Port of Humboldt Bay for offshore wind development.
A $2 million grant was awarded to test out capturing flue gas piped from Calpine’s 500 MW Los Medanos combined-cycle natural gas power plant in Pittsburg to a nearby facility to turn it into synthetic limestone, which can be used in construction material. Blue Planet Systems is the company that will capture the carbon dioxide, turn it into carbonate for mineralization as limestone, combining it with “locally-sourced demolished or returned concrete to produce new CO2-sequestered and upcycled rock products,” according to CEC staff.
Cement acts like the glue in concrete. When it is manufactured, it generates a massive amount of carbon dioxide. About half of the pollution from cement production is from the fuel used to heat the ovens, but the other half comes from the chemical reaction in which carbonaceous limestone is changed to calcium oxide and the carbon is driven off into the atmosphere.
Blue Planet estimates it can capture one ton of carbon dioxide per day from Los Medanos. It aims to “provide a practical means of capturing the flue gas stream” and turning into limestone, said Brent Constantz, Blue Planet CEO.
He said this type of aggregate has been used in cement at San Francisco Airport’s Terminal One. He added that SFO construction contracts specify low- or carbon-neutral concrete.
Nevertheless, the process addresses only 1% of plant flue gas emissions.
The project could have been approved by staff without the commissioners’ okay, but was presented to them to highlight this “innovative approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a thermal power plant,” said Elizabeth Huber, CEC manager of the Office of Compliance Monitoring, during the March 9 meeting. The pilot with Blue Planet and San Francisco Aggregate is intended to show the benefits and “implications of integrating post-combustion carbon capture with thermal power plant operations, prior to progressing to commercial scale,” she added.
Different forms of carbon capture have been funded and discussed for years, but little has come of the money spent. The difference here is if the process works, it will help decarbonize a carbon-heavy and ubiquitous product, cement.
The commission also awarded $2.7 million to a company to develop a solid state lithium-ion battery that includes a cathode free of cobalt, much of which is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo using child labor. Solid state is a holy grail in battery technology and the battery being developed by Sparkz Inc. is supposed to allow domestic battery production. The company also is pitching it as 40% less expensive than standard lithium-ion batteries with greater energy density—350 watt-hours/kilogram.
Another $2 million was awarded to The Gas Institute to pilot hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks with low-resistance tires. The project is aimed at semi-trucks that travel 300 miles per day between the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley. There are 75,000 tractor-trailer rigs like this on the roads in California, and they produce 4.2 million metric tons of CO2 per year and 1,100 metric tons of nitrogen oxides.
Another $2 million was awarded to Cummins Electrified Power to develop two hydrogen-fueled trucks with a range on par with diesel-fueled trucks, 350-400 miles per charge. Under the award, the truck maker is also supposed to assess the feasibility of on-board liquid hydrogen storage for extended range.
A $2.5 million grant was approved for The Port of Long Beach for 10 Level 2 charging stations for port vehicles and those of staff and the public.
Other grants include $1.5 million to the County of Merced to expand its dairy biogas projects, adding another seven dairies. The biogas will be blended with natural gas and transported in the Merced pipeline. The project is expected to produce renewable compressed gas at an equivalent of 1.8 million diesel gallons per year, reducing methane emissions from the dairies, according to the CEC.
The company Porifera Inc. was awarded $3 million to create an osmosis membrane that filters out impurities in wastewater to allow it to be used by industry and agriculture.