Thursday, August 13, 2020

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    How a goal to protect a warrior son led to world-changing technology

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    Gay Wyn Quance
    Courtesy photo

    A desire to keep his son safe while deployed in Iraq led the late engineer Dallas B. Noyes to develop a process to make high-strength carbon. He created a lightweight and affordable product that was 20 percent stronger than anything else on the market.

    And that is only one key benefit. Noyes’ work led to a revolutionary process that not only resulted in affordable solid carbon products, it converts C02 – carbon dioxide – into a durable carbon material that results in a reduction in entering the environment. The product is used in making tires and other products that traditionally obtained carbon from the soot created after burning oil – a process that greatly contributes to carbon dioxide entering the environment.

    Noyes’ work led to the establishment of Provo-based and appropriately named Solid Carbon Products in 2009, which is now headed by his widow, Gay Wyn Quance, CEO and cofounder – and a scientist in her own right.

    Quance is participating in the Moab Science Festival now underway and she will discuss how her company converts greenhouse gases into valuable consumer and industrial sold carbon products – and produce distilled water as a byproduct – at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Grand County High School band room.

    “I will come prepared to talk about, ‘How do you take an idea intended to protect your son and make it into something to protect the planet?’” she said.

    There’s also profit to be made in the $25 billion a year carbon market. While Noyes refused to lend his name to his method, it became known as the Noyes Process after his death, something his wife decided was a good way to honor his memory. The technology is proven, she said, and clean. So clean, her company won a clean energy and technology award in 2011.

    Carbon black, a performance additive for rubber and also used as an intensely dark pigment that, until the Noyes process, was made by burning oil using a method called Furnace Black, is one of the products the company will make. Quance’s research lab has also developed the post-processing methods to convert this carbon black into high-purity synthetic graphite.

    The technology operates as a closed loop, meaning there are no emissions. It takes about 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide to make a ton of carbon, resulting in a net reduction of the greenhouse gas.

    So where does Solid Carbon Products get the carbon dioxide that they then convert into durable solid carbons? Quance said any industrial grade carbon dioxide works and it is currently being purchased from a gas supply company. In the future, the Noyes Process will be installed downstream of equipment that is scrubbing carbon dioxide from industrial emission point sources, or from direct air capture. This means the captured carbon dioxide will be used as raw material to make what Quance said are valuable solid carbons, offsetting the cost to capture the carbon dioxide.

    Tire manufacturers use carbon black to make tires strong and one of them is reporting good results testing the Noyes Process as an alternate to carbon black. “They are looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their tires by using the ‘green’ carbon black made using the Noyes Process. Lithium battery manufacturers also report good results in evaluating the new high purity synthetic graphite made from Noyes carbon.

    Currently operating on a pilot production scale while securing the funding to build the first commercial demonstration scale unit, Quance has high hopes for the future due to what she calls the “double benefit.” The Noyes Process reduces carbon dioxide. For every ton of carbon produced by burning oil, 2.62 tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, she said.

    “We’re ready to go commercial and we have half of the funds spoken for,” said Quance. “We’re getting the word out … and hope to put shovels in the ground Q1 2020.” Quance declined to offer specifics on the financials, but she was comfortable saying multiple millions of dollars have been invested on the project.

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