Published: December 17, 2013


Former Energy Secretary Chu Joins Board of Canadian Startup

WASHINGTON — A Canadian company with a radically different approach to capturing carbon pollution from power plants has won an influential endorsement from Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and a former secretary of energy, who is joining the company’s board.

The company, Svante Inc. (Formerly Inventys Thermal Technologies), based in Vancouver, British Columbia, will announce Dr. Chu’s appointment on Wednesday. Svante has been working in a crucial area that has been mostly neglected: capturing carbon dioxide from natural gas.

The carbon dioxide is valuable in oil fields, and Svante’s technology could also help limit climate change. Natural gas releases only about half as much carbon dioxide as coal per unit of electricity produced. But even that amount is triple what would be required to meet President Obama’s goal of cutting carbon output by 80 percent by midcentury.

Dr. Chu said in a telephone interview that the chemical process for carbon capture that has been most widely tested, called amine chemistry, was so expensive that “we need better ideas.”