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The company transforming hot shower emissions into soap and shampoo

Hotels use a lot of hot water, and heating it releases a sizable amount of carbon dioxide. An innovative company called CleanO2 has now found a way of capturing these emissions and transforming them into sustainable soap and shampoo.

I don’t know about you, but I reckon a hotel offering of sustainable soap and shampoo is worth at least an extra star on Trip Advisor.

Both are currently being gifted as freebies in bathrooms throughout a Radisson hotel in the States. Within the maintenance area of the building, a device roughly the size of two refrigerators stores carbon dioxide emissions whenever guests take a shower.

As soon as the water tanks heat up – which releases a fair amount of CO2 – the state of the art CarbinX diverts the flow of emissions and partly converts them into a form of potassium carbonate. The resulting chemical, more commonly known as potash, is ideal for making all sorts of shower essentials.

That’s right, this is probably the only non-selfish scenario that can be used to justify taking a long shower. The website amusingly refers to the process as ‘sequestering suds.’

Every couple of weeks the material left behind is ‘harvested’ by technicians and sent off to commercial companies. Proprietors of the machine, CleanO2 then use the potash to form eco-friendly bars of soap and shampoo, selling tens of thousands of units a month.

If you wish to trade in your bog standard shower gel for some ‘Sustainable Spice,’ or perhaps a bar of ‘Enviro Mint’ you can do so here.

As carbon capture initiatives go, this is a real feat of engineering. Utilising the technology in the context of a single building is rare and impressive enough, but creating tangible goods from the emissions is an added bonus.

The CarbinX does, however, have some notable areas where improvements can be made and CleanO2 is keen to make them.

Chiefly, the current version of the tech is only able to capture 20% of carbon dioxide from each appliance and costs £25,000 – the company claims that the device will pay for itself after a period between three and five years.

Prospective buyers are likely wait for a while now though. The Canadian firm is already working on a more efficient model for next year which aims to capture half of all emissions, and is striving to smother 100% by 2027.

That’ll be a whole lot of soap.

Credit: CleanO2

‘We have a road map to get there with some tweaks to our design, using some other types of technology that are currently available, and basically just shrinking them down for the heating industry,’ says CEO Jaeson Cardiff.

With the CarbinX already installed in 25 commercial buildings, venture capital firm Regeneration.VC has recently led a funding seed round of $2.75m which will hopefully help these ambitious plans to materialise.

Still, as it is now, a single machine can capture six to eight metric tons of carbon a year. That is equivalent to the volume sequestered by roughly 300 trees. Impressive, eh?

For a relatively low cost, it too allows businesses to begin addressing their emissions now without investing millions to retrofit old commercial buildings.

‘We see our technology more as a transitional technology,’ said Cardiff. He believes tech of its ilk should be put to work immediately ‘while we figure out what the energy infrastructure is going to look like in the future.’

You’ll find no arguments here.