The business mission of Mineral Carbonation International (MCi) sounds deceptively simple: to transform CO2 into useful materials for daily life. In practice, the Australian company uses an innovative chemical engineering process to turn carbon dioxide from sectors such as the steel and cement industries (where emissions are hard to abate) into building materials like cement and plasterboard, alongside other low-carbon inputs for the circular economy.
It’s a process that usually takes millions of years. But at its Newcastle headquarters MCi has reduced it to minutes. “It’s just basically accelerating the earth’s way of storing CO2 and then turning it into value,” says the chief operating officer (and the company’s first employee) Sophia Hamblin Wang.
The Visionary Awards judge Amanda McKenzie says: “MCi is leading the way for innovative climate solutions that not only focus on reducing carbon dioxide pollution, but also use their technology to support other industries in the green transition.
“MCi has proven it’s in it for the long haul,” she continues, “and shows how solutions to climate change can have widespread benefits, which brings others along on the path to a cleaner future.”
The company is about to put shovels in the ground to create a demonstration plant in Newcastle, New South Wales, that aims to lock away between 2,000 and 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. “It will be one of the largest [demonstration plants] and the first of its kind in the world,” says Hamblin Wang. “And it will really cement MCi and Australian technology as being one of the world leaders in mineral carbonation, so that is extremely exciting.”