Chemical engineering firm Skyonic Corp. said Tuesday it has raised $128 million to push forward with technology that would turn carbon dioxide emissions into profitable products.
The Austin-based company said it will use the funding to build a carbon capture facility at a cement plant in San Antonio. The facility, which is scheduled for completion in late 2014, is intended to trap 83,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Capital Aggregates Inc. cement plant, officials said.
Founded in 2005 by semiconductor industry veteran Joe Jones, Skyonic has developed a process that converts the carbon dioxide released by the flues of industrial facilities into baking soda, hydrochloric acid and other chemicals that can then be resold.
The process also filters sulfur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, mercury and other heavy metals from the flue streams.
Jones said Skyonic’s carbon-capture technology uses a patented chemistry process that enables power-generation and industrial manufacturing plants to cost-effectively produce energy and products in a cleaner way.
Countries including the United States and the United Kingdom have sought to capture carbon from power plants for burial underground, but projects on a commercial scale have yet to operate.
Skyonic officials said the plant will demonstrate the viability of capturing and reusing carbon dioxide as a money-making business-scale venture.
“It signals to the whole world that we have another alternative for carbon-capture besides the pipeline-it-and-pump-it-in-the-ground solutions that have failed to take off,” Jones said. “We’re essentially turning pollution into a valuable commodity.”
The funding includes $80 million in loans from Apollo Investment Corp. and Maxus Capital Group. Investors include BP Plc, Cenovus Energy, BlueCap Partners, Toyo-Thai Corp. Plc and Energy Technology Ventures.
Harbir Chhina, executive vice president of Oil Sands at Calgary-based Cenovus, said Skyonic’s technology “is a good example of how creative thinking and technology can reduce the environmental impact of producing energy while creating valuable products.”
BP is supporting the venture even after scrapping a carbon-capture project in Scotland. The London-based company said on its website that it has developed a “portfolio of investments that could yield valuable innovations in carbon capture and storage, carbon conversion and solutions for carbon markets.”
Skyonic previously raised $4.25 million from investors. It also has received two federal grants totaling $28 million.
The company has 18 employees, 13 of whom are in Austin. The plant’s construction will create about 50 jobs, officials said.