On top of Old Smoky

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News With announcements of new energy technologies coming out constantly, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out which ones are actually worth getting excited about. A power-plant scrubber highlighted in Tuesday’s Financial Times is a case in point. The Sugarland, TX-based WOW Energies has developed a device that reduces CO2 emissions in a ...

600930_070628_powerplant_05.jpg
600930_070628_powerplant_05.jpg

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

With announcements of new energy technologies coming out constantly, it's sometimes difficult to figure out which ones are actually worth getting excited about.

A power-plant scrubber highlighted in Tuesday's Financial Times is a case in point. The Sugarland, TX-based WOW Energies has developed a device that reduces CO2 emissions in a big way, the company claims:

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

With announcements of new energy technologies coming out constantly, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out which ones are actually worth getting excited about.

A power-plant scrubber highlighted in Tuesday’s Financial Times is a case in point. The Sugarland, TX-based WOW Energies has developed a device that reduces CO2 emissions in a big way, the company claims:

Daniel Stinger, Wow chairman and inventor of the technology, says standard scrubbers can remove 50-60 per cent of mercury from emissions, while third party testing has shown his technology removes 85 to 95 per cent of heavy metals pollutants, including mercury. In addition, its pilot projects demonstrated carbon dioxide reductions of up to 85 per cent – not even the original aim.

85 percent CO2 reduction? Wow (no pun intended). Although it hasn’t been proven on a large scale, this is impressive. Oddly, the WOWClean results (pdf) have been out since December, yet we’re only reading about it now. There has to be a catch. The FT reports that WOW energy hasn’t found much interest from utilities:

In the six months since Wow began marketing the technology, [WOW’s CFO Martin] Brau has found utility groups have little interest in spending money to reduce emissions unless forced by legislation, preferring instead to “chip away” at emissions as new requirements gradually come into effect.”A lot of them simply don’t want to know,” says Mr Brau. “Unless they are forced to, they won’t stop. They have a grandfathered right to pollute.”

Could the catch be that WOWClean captures the CO2 so that it can be stored somewhere or sequestered underground (boring) rather than eliminate CO2 emissions through some chemical process (potentially very exciting)?

I emailed Brau to get clarification on this. Brau responded:

What we mean is that the CO2 is converted into a stable bicarbonate, such as baking powder, it is not sequestered as a liquid gas.

This is awesome … but it’s probably unwise to get too excited until more work is done to test the large-scale performance and viability of this technology. In energy, there’s always a catch. But definitely keep an eye on this. Power plants account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions in the United States, so progress in this area is crucial to major emissions reductions.

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