Today, a company called Skyonic announced a novel new system, Skymine, which uses the carbon dioxide emitted from smokestacks to make baking soda. According to Skyonic CEO Joe David Jones, the system will be powered by waste heat from factories, and will produce food-grade baking soda.
Last year, the utility company Luminant installed a pilot version of the system at its Big Brown Steam Electric Station in Fairfield, Texas. There's still quite a bit of work to be done to make the current system viable on a large scale, but the baking soda idea offers solutions to some of the economic problems posed by other carbon sequestration methods. For starters, according to Jones, the stuff can be sold for home or industrial use or buried harmlessly in landfields or abandoned mines.
Jones apparently got the idea for the SkyMine system while watching a Discovery Channel show with his kids. He pulled out an old college science textbook and immediately turned to a passage about converting C02 to baking soda. He'd found it interesting years ago and highlighted it for future reference. -Megan Miller