In order to meet President Obama’s goal of out-innovating the world in the clean energy economy, the United States Patent and Trademark Office extended the Green Technology Pilot Program. Through this pilot, the USPTO expedites patent applications for any invention that will strongly contribute to improving environmental quality; the discovery or development of renewable energy sources; better use of existing energy resources, or reduction of greenhouse gases. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 1,918 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 328 patents have been issued.
Under this program, California-based Calera Corporation has been able to fast track twelve applications for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into green “reactive cements” that replace traditional “portland cement” commonly used in the construction of buildings.
The heart of the Calera process, referred to as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, combines carbon dioxide flue gas from power plants with the Earth’s natural waters and converts the gas into stable solid minerals similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants including metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals. These minerals can then be used to produce high reactive cements akin to portland cement without the negative environmental impacts derived from mining and processing. For those interested in more details, the USPTO's website has a more in-depth webpage about Calera and this process.
Calera’s founder Brent Constantz envisioned a “green cement" alternative that could one day replace portland cement, the third largest source of man-made carbon dioxide on the planet. Portland cement, the world’s most common type of cement, is used in everyday concrete, mortar, stucco and many types of grout. The manufacture of portland cement is detrimental to the environment contributing to: increased air pollution through dust and gas emissions; depleted resources through heavy fuel consumption; and damage to the countryside from quarrying.
"The potential is huge: It's like planting forests of trees through the pouring of concrete or bricks,” said U.S. Green Building Council co-founder David Gottfried in an interview posted on Calera’s website. “In everything I've seen, I have never seen anything with the potential that Calera has."
Manufacturers interested in learning more about this pilot program should visit the Green Technology Pilot Program or contact a patent examiner about a specific petition.