Codexis, Inc. (Nasdaq: CDXS) today unveiled results from the pilot-scale demonstration of the company’s carbon capture technology conducted at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) in Wilsonville, Alabama. Codexis developed this patented technology under a license granted by CO 2 Solutions, Inc. (TSXV:CST). The field test, on flue gas emitted from a Southern Company’s power plant, shows that enzymes have promise to facilitate CO 2 capture at coal-fired power plants. This is the largest scale that enzyme-based carbon capture technology has been demonstrated to date, with the equivalent daily capture rate of 1,800 average sized trees per day.
In May 2010, Codexis received $4.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) to develop an active enzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA), which catalyzes the transfer of carbon dioxide in nature and is designed to remove dangerous emissions from coal-fired power plants.
With ARPA-E’s funding, Codexis saw the largest improvement in an enzyme the company has ever seen: a 2-million-fold improvement in thermal stability at temperatures between 140 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, preliminary analysis indicates the enzyme-based carbon capture technology can substantially reduce parasitic energy loss compared to the current state-of-the-art MEA technology.
A 2011 National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) report estimated that coal-fired power plants account for roughly 37 percent of total U.S. CO 2 emissions and that current state-of-the-art MEA technology to capture CO 2 could reduce power-generating capacity by 30 percent. Codexis’ enzyme-based technology, if successful, could play a role in meeting the proposed new EPA standards (Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants), first published in April 2012 – theoretically capturing up to 90 percent of CO 2 emissions of coal-fired power plants."Using Codexis’ enzyme-based carbon capture technology, power plant operators may be able to capture carbon much more efficiently," said James Lalonde, Ph.D., Vice President of Biochemistry and Engineering Research and Development, Codexis, who led the demonstration. “By partnering with CO 2 Solutions, we were able to access their broad patent portfolio, which covers various processes for the use of carbonic anhydrase, and apply Codexis technology to make biocatalysts work under harsh, real-world conditions.” Codexis used its patented CodeEvolver™ directed evolution technology to develop processes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Carbonic anhydrase (CA) is an enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of carbon dioxide in nature. CodeEvolver TM can be used to create and deploy CA biocatalysts with substantially improved stability and performance under industrial conditions. “Codexis has pushed enzyme-based carbon capture technology to a level that surpassed all expectations, and we’ve succeeded in demonstrating that this could be a viable solution,” said John Nicols, President and CEO of Codexis. "This achievement proves that Codexis CodeEvolver™ directed evolution technology can impact industries well beyond fuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals."