New patents issued to CO2 Solutions Inc. add more depth to its already-extensive U.S. patent portfolio, providing broad coverage for carbonic anhydrase accelerated processes for carbon capture using a potassium carbonate solution, the Quebec City-based corporation said this week.
A leader in the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture technology, CO2 Solutions received notice of allowance for the patent entitled Process for Capturing CO2 from a Gas using Carbonic Anhydrase and Potassium Carbonate.
Potassium carbonate is a highly stable and benign CO2 capture solvent. Unlike amine-based capture processes, it has no toxic degradation products or waste issues. The proprietary technology also significantly reduces operating costs relative to amine-based systems by utilizing low-grade nil-value heat for solvent regeneration, rather than high-cost steam.
CO2 Solutions believes the patent will have significant value especially relative to the use of carbonic anhydrase to improve CO2 absorption and desorption in a CO2 capture process based on the use of potassium carbonate solutions.
"This patent is yet another element in our robust intellectual property portfolio which we believe effectively covers all viable routes to commercialization of carbonic anhydrase enzyme-based systems for carbon capture," said Evan Price, president and chief executive officer.
CO2 Solutions also announced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) upheld the validity of numerous commercially significant claims related to the patent Carbonic Anhydrase Bioreactor And Process For CO2-Containing Gas Effluent Treatment, which had been challenged by a competitor. The decision came in the context of an Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceeding, which was instituted by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) pursuant to a petition filed by U.S.-based Akermin Inc.
Having reviewed CO2 Solutions' patent, the PTAB ruled in favour of the corporation on four of the five grounds of reviews, upholding its commercially significant claims of the patent that had been challenged and therefore such patent claims will remain in force. The PTAB's decision to cancel several claims of the patent has no effect on the corporation's freedom to operate, and this part of the PTAB's decision may be appealed should the corporation so decide in due course.
"In laymen's terms, what this means is that, based on the patent claims upheld by the Patent Office, the access to the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture is barred by our intellectual property of 49 granted patents and 40 pending patent applications," stated Price. "We believe this confirms CO2 Solutions' possession of the least expensive and most environmentally friendly carbon capture technology available on the market."
"Claims that survive the heightened scrutiny of IPR proceedings are typically strengthened against subsequent challenges," commented Jeremy Lawson of ROBIC, LLP, which has provided patent counsel to CO2 Solutions for almost two decades. "Patent claims that are challenged in IPR proceedings are usually those that are infringed or commercially significant to a competitor. In this particular case, a number of CO2 Solutions' claims related to CO2 capture using certain enzymatic particle materials as well as bioreactor and process configurations were challenged but have been upheld."
The USPTO decision comes on the heels of another decision relative to a post-grant re-examination request in Denmark, issued on July 15, and also initiated by Akermin Inc. In that decision, the Danish Patent Office maintained all of CO2 Solutions' claims contained in the registered Danish Utility Model, meaning that all of the claims were upheld.
Subsequent to the release of the Danish decision, Akermin Inc., the petitioner in both the Danish re-examination proceeding and the U.S. IPR proceeding, has itself ceased operations and is now in liquidation. These recent patent office decisions and the developments concerning CO2 Solutions' sole competitor in the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture further illustrate the strength of its patent portfolio and the competitive advantage CO2 Solutions continues to hold in this field, the corporation said.
CO2 Solutions is working with several oil companies to advance the technologies that will underpin the deployment of industrial-scale carbon capture and storage. Phase Three of its CO2 Capture Project (CCP3) includes members BP, Chevron, Eni, Petrobras, Shell and Suncor. CCP3 is financially supporting CO2 Solutions’ Alberta oilsands project in return for certain project data and reports relative to the pre-pilot phase. CO2 Solutions is also working with Husky on a pilot test of its technology.