Kamloops inventor claims way to recycle carbon

A technologist and entrepreneur living in Kamloops claims to have invented a process to recycle carbon from smokestacks to create a material that can be burned once again.

The "carbon catcher" promoted by Viva Cundliffe promises huge savings to companies that emit carbon dioxide by breaking it down to its original components: oxygen and carbon.

That carbon is rendered into "black carbon," a coal-like material that can be burned again.

But an online critic has called the claims "junk science" and Thompson Rivers University's dean of science said Cundliffe is an inventor who is working outside of typical peer-reviewed scientific methods.

Scientists around the world are seeking ways to lower emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Those emissions have been named as a cause of global warming. Governments and industry are looking for ways to bury it, so it is not released into the atmosphere.

"Why bury carbon monoxide in the ground?" states material from GC Green Carbon.

"After all we are desperate to find new sources of carbon for running our cars, heating our houses and running our factories!"

Experiments conducted by Cundliffe, an applied technologist, have been financed by a number of government agencies, including Natural Resources Canada, the B.C. government and the Interior Science and Innovation Council.

"We just successfully proved this week a collection of black carbon from carbon dioxide," Cundliffe said. "It's been done and it's a done deal."

Cundliffe has a testing facility on the city's east side. She said she's now seeking money from the province's Innovative Clean Energy Fund as well as Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust in an effort to move toward commercialization.

Sierra Rayne, a blogger on scientific matters, called the claims "junk science" in a posting. He also criticized TRU for its involvement.

GC Green Carbon credits the university in its materials.

Tom Dickinson, dean of science at TRU, said no one at the university has seen the entire process, only "constituent parts" because it is proprietary.

He also said, even if it can be done, refining carbon material from carbon dioxide into an energy source must be done in an "economically and energetically viable way."

Dickinson acknowledged testing and experiments for complex chemistry and physics is typically done at a university setting, with peer-reviewed papers published rather than by an entrepreneur making claims not verified by an outside source.

"That's normally the way things happen. Having said that, I don't think discovery and innovation is only the pursuit of higher education."

Dickinson noted famed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as an example as an entrepreneurial inventor.

Cundliffe said she was recruited to come to Kamloops from her home in the Kootenays to further her work. The next step is getting more funding.

"It's a burnable fuel," she said of the recycled carbon from smokestacks. "I think it's a good time to go public. There are leaders who want to shut coal plants down. We need to be able to burn."

cfortems@kamloopsnews.ca

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