The Baking Soda Carbon Fix

“SkyMines” turn power plant effluvia into an odor-fighting household product. But can you bake with it?

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If the Austin-based company Skyonic has its way, we will one day have tons more baking soda on hand that could fill cakes or fight fridge odors. CEO Joe David Jones, a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) pioneer, discovered a simple process to turn power plant carbon dioxide emissions into the ubiquitous household powder. His “SkyMine” technology combines a plant’s emissions with lye—created on-site with little more than salt, water, electricity, and waste heat from the plant—to produce food-grade baking soda.

The byproducts are hydrogen and chlorine from lye, which plants can sell for a profit along with the baking soda. The process removes 97 percent of the heavy metals that power plants belch, and 99 percent of acid-rain gases, meaning companies can offset costs by bypassing expensive scrubber systems and avoiding carbon emissions taxes.

According to Skyonic’s spokeswoman, Stacy MacDiarmid, Texas energy company Luminant has been operating a pilot SkyMine since July 2007 with “no major stumbling blocks.” If that remains true, it’s likely more plants will follow.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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