The University of British Columbia (UBC) has developed a technology that has the potential to have a large impact on global CO2 emissions while addressing the issue of dwindling global water reserves. The novel technology uses CO2 to desalinate industrial wastewater, creating a smaller carbon footprint and an economical alternative to conventional desalination technology. The process uses these inputs to create desalinated water and high-value chemicals that are particularly useful for the oil and gas industry. In what could possibly become the standard desalination and wastewater treatment, UBC’s technology could have a significant impact on carbon dioxide removal.

The technology combines salts present in industrial wastewater with carbon dioxide in an electrochemical cell to mineralize the carbon dioxide in the form of high-value oil-field chemicals such as acids and carbonate salts. This coupled process simultaneously removes CO2 and desalinates the wastewater or brine. The amount of CO2 that can be mineralized is dependent on the salt content of the wastewater. Designed as a process operated from a modular facility, the technology can be easily scaled based on wastewater volume treatment requirements. The modular design also means the technology will be easy to transport and simple to operate on site.