Gaia Engineering

Gaia Engineering solves world problems by devising technology paradigms that reverse damaging molecular flows. I does this by changing the economics driving materials and energy flows on the planet. We chose the name after the Greek god Gaia or Mother Earth.

In spite of all the rhetoric from politicians about difficult to meet “targets” approximately four new fossil fuel power plants are being commissioned a week and two of these are in China. Global fossil fuel energy consumption is increasing at an ever increasing rate[1], green wash abounds in industry and most realists do not believe we have any hope of meeting any targets let alone reducing emissions. Whether you think global warming is happening or not we think it is not a good idea to meddle with he global commons of which the atmosphere is an important part. The steady decline in oxygen as carbon combines with it during combustion gets less attention but is more alarming. So too are other consequences of global warming including ocean acidification and the spate of recent cyclones.

It is clear that we are not going to solve the problem of global warming as long as there are perveived downsides to doing something about it. Gaia Engineering is a new way of dealing with the problem that invokes simple, cheap industrially symbiotic processes that are potentially profitable and that have no downsides. It provides an economic means of converting the CO2 in the air into a resource by combining it with waste magnesium ions. The product is sold as aggregate and binders for building and construction. What could be simpler!

Gaia Engineering Poster Diagram

To be successful the solution to the CO2 problem has to be simple and produce profitably saleable product for huge markets in size and over time otherwise it will not sequester enough carbon dioxide or be implemented by government, business or the masses given their short term view, abhorence to risk and failure to do anything other than talk about it.

It will not be possible to solve the problem unless doing so makes money because we are all slaves to economics and besides, global economies could not cope with the enormous cost of other more conventional so called solutions. If the carbon price approximately represents the unit cost of using methods other than Gaia Engineering, using a price of $ 25, given that anthropogenic emissions are currently (2012) around 38 billion tonnes, then the total cost would be around a trillion dollars. In comparison Gaia Engineering is potentially profitable. It has inputs of CO2 and wastes such as oil process water, de-sal waste water or bitterns and outputs of synthetic carbonate building materials, fresher water and other potentially valuable compounds - all of which are saleable in very large quantities. The market for construction materials is the largest single market on the planet apart from the supply of water in terms of physical size and in terms of value traded it is the largest.

When the time comes to review the technical advances of the age we now live in the conversion of carbon dioxide into a resource will be most highly considered. The TecEco Gaia Engineering solution to global warming is easily achieved and I am amazed as to why people are not beating a path to our door to invest in our efforts.

Around 7-8 % of the crust is carbonate sediment and this represents the major proportion of billions of years of natural permanent sequestration and durable structures have been built using this natural carbonate for thousands of years.

Natuaral Sinks

Carbon Sinks and Anthropogenic Actual and Predicted Consumption of Carbon [2]

A high proportion of aggregates are manufactured or carbonates such as limestone or dolomite and the obvious step is to consider synthetic carbonate concretes. If aggregates are synthetic as well as our patented Eco-Cements then the potential sequestration is enormous as depicted in the graph below which shows 22.5 billion tonnes for 2011.


Gaia Engineering Sequestration [3]

The technology developed by TecEco that we call Gaia Engineering mimics natural processes by sequestering carbon dioxide to build with just like a shellfish or big old tree and is thus geomimetric


TecEco Sustainable Cities using Carbon in Building Products

Gaia Engineering involves precipitating CO2 as nesquehonite in the N-Mg process and using it to manufacture synthetic carbonate aggregates with it and other wastes and our patented more sustainable and technically superior binders including Eco-Cement which sets by absorbing CO2. A kiln is under development by TecEco for making reactive magnesia (rMgO), the basis of its binders, without releases and that also generates electricity. Software for implementing the companies cement formulations is being written by a subsidiary company TecSoft Pty. Ltd.

Gaia Engineering Vector Flow diagram

The N-Mg process is very similar to the first carbonation step of the Solvay process and involves pH adjustment and recycling of all inputs except the HCl and nesquehonite produced. The objective is to turn CO2 into a resource by capturing it with waste sources of magnesium ions to make synthetic carbonate aggregate and reactive magnesia (rMgO) the binder. The main inputs are CO2 gas not necessarily from a point source but preferably so and brine preferably for environmental reasons from a waste stream of which there are many such as oil process water and desalination effluent to name but a few. In an ideal configuration the water from which Mg carbonates are removed would also be further processed to remove other valuable salts leaving fresher water for drinking.

Gaia Engineering simplified process vector

Gaia Engineering - the N-Mg Process

By way of example we describe in detail below the process using bitterns (MgCl2) as an input which is proven [2] and can be implemented very cheaply. The rate of conversion to nesquehonite (MgCO3.3H2O) is rapid and there are potentially no wastes.

Consumption of Mg++ in the N-Mg process (Using MgCl2)

Consider the reactions in the N-Mg sub process of Gaia Engineering.

1. CO2 + H2O < = > H2CO3 (aq)
2. H2CO3 (aq) < = > H+ (aq) + HCO3-- (aq)
3. Mg2+(aq) + HCO3-- (aq) + 3H2O => MgCO3.3H2O (nesquehonite) + H+ (aq) - (acidification)
4. NH4OH + H+ (aq) => NH4 + (aq) + H2O - (neutralisation)

Le Chatelier’s principle applies.

(Note that ammonia complexes may also assist the precipitation of nesquehonite (MgCO3.3H2O). See for example

5. NH4+ (aq) + Cl- (aq) => NH4Cl (Ammonia associates mainly with chloride, the predominant balancing ion.)

There is a market for NH4Cl mainly as a nitrogen fertilizer and we plan to use a variant of the Haber process to produce hydrogen electrolytically and from this manufacture the ammonia required. The market may not be large enough however.

An alternative option is to use our Tec-Kiln to produce reactive magnesia (rMgO) for our cements from the nesquehonite produced and then dissolve the rMgO in a small amount in water to produce Mg(OH)2 which can be used to recover ammonia which can be driven off by heat as in reaction 6.

6. Mg(OH)2 + NH4Cl => MgCl2 + NH4OH (heat).

If ammonia is recovered at the end of the NMg process using rMgO recycled back into it then MgCl2 is produced which can also be recycled back into the process.

This option is unlikely other than for testing purposes however because a mole of MgO is required for every mole of ammonia recovered and as a mole of ammonia is required for every mole of nesquehonite produced there is no net advantage.

Another alternative is that the ammonia is evaporated off by heating and the excess anions previously associated with the precipitated magnesium cations result in the production of hydrochloric acid which can be used industrially according to reaction 7

7. NH4Cl + H2O => HCl + NH4OH (heat).

The ammonia is recycled back into the process.

About 20 million tonnes of hydrochloric acid are currently produced annually by other means less efficient than Gaia Engineering and significant supply is therefore potentially replaceable by our N-Mg sub process with no emissions. As acid extraction processes replace pyro processes for the extraction of metals particularly from lateritic ores with obvious energy and emissions advantages the global requirements for HCl will grow significantly and the use of CO2 producing fuels will decline in proportion

Other sub-process such as Lackner absorption towers or The Tec-Reactor Hydroxide Carbonate Capture Cycle can be added to the overall process and we have also determined there is a route to transportable fuel as in the above vector flow diagram.

A possible Plant Configuration for the N-Mg Process

More recently we have become excited by the fact that there are several routes to energy from reactive MgO involving abundant solar energy (as in the middle east), nitrogen, carbides and CO2. One of great interest is based on a method researched at MIT, now in the public domain, for synthesis of carbide in a rotating electric arc. This step can be combined with a fluidized bed reactor that immediately combines the hot, finely divided, carbide product with nitrogen to produce cyanamide that is readily reacted with CO2 to form the final product cyanoguanidine which is a safe transportable store for ammonia, a highly efficient fuel.

A full implementation would produce water of improved quality and help solve that problem as well as mitigating the problems being caused by the commissioning of more and more energy hungry and polluting desalination plants. It would be ideal for countries like Singapore or rich emirates in the middle east to adopt and makes much more sense than simple solutions such as transport or educational hubs and would probably even require less energy.

The Eco-cement part of Gaia engineering is well developed. The manufacture of nesquehonite is the starting point for the manufacture of man-ade carbonate aggregate and the feedstock for the manufacture of MgO in our top secret kiln.

The solubility of carbon dioxide gas in seawater increases as the temperature approaches zero and is at a maxima around 4oC. This phenomenon is related to the chemical nature of CO2 and water and can be utilised in a carbonate – hydroxide slurry process to capture CO2 out of the air and release it for storage or use in a controlled manner.

Given the size of the built environment, volume of and potential reduction in impact of associated flows, TecEco binders used to cement together wastes and carbonates manufactured as part of the Gaia Engineering process to form building materials in a way that mimics nature is a low energy bottom up economic solution to the world’s most pressing problem that works because it profitably changes the fundamental flows that are damaging.

Gaia Engineering Flowchart

Our currently prefered Gaia Engineering configuration starts with the N-Mg process which uses carbon dioxide from for example power stations to extract magnesium carbonate tri hydrate (nesquehonite) from seawater or suitable brines which can be cast as panels, blocks or other building components or agglomerated for aggregate. As there are 1.29 grams of magnesium in every litre of seawater and more in many brines there is enough of it to last billions of years with natural replenishment given current needs for sequestration. Potential by products include valuable minerals such as sodium bicarbonate as well as fresh water. Because the Greensols process does not work against the hydrogen bonding of water like reverse osmosis it represents a superior low energy alternative.

A proportion of the calcium and magnesium carbonates produced are then calcined in the TecEco Tec-Kiln which removes and captures the gas for recycling in the process and produces magnesium oxide which is the main ingredient of TecEco Tec, Eco and Enviro-Cements. Eco-Cements utilise other wastes and absorb more atmospheric CO2 as they harden and are used to bind together building components including stone, cast components and aggregates produced in ancilliary processes to the N-Mg process.

A built environment of man made carbonate and waste materials could be recycled indefinitely and would store a massive amount of CO2 and other wastes, more than enough to solve the global warming and waste problems if adopted by all nations.

The strategy of Gaia Engineering partners is one of attracting shareholders to provide resources and continuing efforts to engage larger players with a view to them adopting the technology and methods as only with the involvement of larger companies will there be rapid acceptance and implementation. We realise the key to widespread adoption is cost and believe that with our new kiln our cements can be made more cheaply than existing binders.

TecEco are trying to increase the rate of exemplar building particularly in niche, difficult to implement applications and making efforts to connect with carbon trading to provide an incentive to overcome the conservatism, perceived risk and lack of financial incentives for larger companies.

TecEco undertake the manufacture of building components holistically on a whole of material basis and the formulation strategy for the company’s binders is best communicated as software being developed by its subsidiary TecSoft Pty. Ltd. that will in effect be a recipe book for man made carbonate materials of the future which solve rather than create problems.

Significant funding is required to fully develop the commercial potential of Gaia Engineering which should be mandatory for all countries to adopt if we are to survive the future. Several multinationals are now talking to TecEco including players in financial markets and the company now has in place several “option to licence” agreement with respect to it’s cement technologies.

The Gaia Engineering TecEcology - An Industrial Symbiosis

The name Gaia Engineering is also a tribute to James Lovelock who got us all thinking that “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." (Einstein)

Even if the annual flow of emissions was frozen today, the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere would still reach double its pre-industrial levels by 2050. Emissions are increasing rapidly and the level of 550ppm could be reached as early as 2035.

Whether CO2 causes global warming or not we should not tinker with things we do not yet understand. Our view is that it is time we stopped stuffing around and went for the solution that can solve the problem quickly, economically and without huge suffering and losses. Gaia Engineering is that solution

Our Mission

Our mission is to develop Gaia Engineering to substantially reverse damaging moleconomic flows that are a consequence of materials flows on the planet

As the built environment is man made and involves large flows it is the obvious place to geomimic nature and permanently fix CO2 and other wastes

We want governments to using the power of law to force people to use man made carbonate to build with to solve what is the greatest problem facing civilisation

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[1] BP Statistical Review of World Energy

[2] Modified from Figure 2 in Ziock, H. J. and D. P. Harrison. "Zero Emission Coal Power, a New Concept." from by the inclusion of a bar to represent sedimentary sinks.

[3] Source for Cement Production statistics - USGS website

[4] Ferrini, Vincenzo, Caterina De Vito, and Silvano Mignardi. ‘Synthesis of Nesquehonite by Reaction of Gaseous CO 2 with Mg Chloride Solution: Its Potential Role in the Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide’. Journal of Hazardous Materials 168 (2009).

[5] Towe, M K, and Phillip G Malone. ‘Precipitation of Metastable Carbonate Phases from Seawater’. Nature 226 (1970).