NanoMist Technologies Co. Ltd., a company with its roots in a Japanese sake brewery, is looking to put its technology to use for CO2 separation and recovery. By using technology that employs ultrasonic waves to turn liquids into nanosized mist, the company aims to optimize the chemical absorption of CO2.
Things here began when product development at a brewery triggered the discovery that ultrasonic atomization could be a simple way of increasing alcohol content to several dozen percent. This led to the 2002 establishment of NanoMist Technologies as a manufacturer of separation and concentration equipment.
Since the concentration process can be made more efficient by separating out moisture using this ultrasonic atomization equipment, it has conventionally been adopted by major drink manufacturers and the like. But around three to four years ago, the technology started to see an increase in use at chemical plants, where it proves effective in helping to not only optimize and cut the costs of equipment like distillation columns but also reduce the volume of waste matter created.
Now, NanoMist Technologies is slated to install test facilities next fiscal year as part of a joint project it is pursuing alongside Sojitz Corp. (TYO:2768) and Tokuyama Corp. (TYO:4043) under the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The idea here is to take CO2 emitted from Tokuyama’s coal-fired power plants and use this in the production of soda ash. Through ultrasonic atomization, an alkaline aqueous solution based on the likes of sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate can be turned into a mist to increase contact area with the exhaust gas, allowing these cheaper materials to be used for absorption in place of more expensive amines.
To achieve absorption with amines, tall absorption towers are needed to prolong contact with the gas, making for large equipment. It is also necessary to send heat of around 160–180 degrees Celsius with a boiler to speed up the reaction, meaning that running costs too are high. In contrast, the use of ultrasonic atomization technology simplifies things here.
The scope of demonstration testing under the current project will go as far as checking the quality of soda ash that can be produced using the recovered CO2.
In working toward commercialization here, NanoMist Technologies will look to further increase the performance of the equipment itself. Creating ultrasonic waves requires a considerable amount of energy; further, the processing speed at hand will be best suited by a temperature of 70–80 degrees Celsius, meaning that it will also be important to improve the efficiency of heat exchangers. NanoMist Technologies intends to spend this full year working on improvements, with aims being to reduce the technology’s energy requirements by at least 30–40 percent.