Calera Corporation has found a way to fix carbon back into components of our built environment and turn a profit while doing so. Calera has developed the ability to continuously capture large quantities of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, pollutants and even heavy metals, converting these undesirables into usable construction applications like cement, concrete and green chemicals.
Founded in 2007 and located in Los Gatos, California, Calera calls its conversion process from carbon to stable, solid minerals “Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation.” Essentially, Calera turns the CO2 in flue gas into carbonates via an electrolysis process in which the CO2 reacts with the calcium and magnesium in seawater. These carbonates form the basis of the construction materials.
Calera has a strategic alliance with the Bechtel Corporation that will place its technology in all new projects supervised and built by Bechtel in the drive toward carbon neutrality.
The company is not without its detractors. Chemist Jerry Unruh, Ph.D., has disputed the validity of Calera’s process, claiming that performance of the CO2 capture part of the process has been exaggerated, particularly in regards to coal plants, and that the process may be more energy-intensive than the company has indicated.