CarbinX: A look at breakthrough carbon-capture system that N.J. Natural Gas has installed in its Wall headquarters

Unique system not only captures carbon emissions, it does so in process that creates solid that can be repurposed for commercial products, including soap, detergents and durable building materials

New Jersey Natural Gas, the principal subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, was thrilled to announce last week that it has installed and is now operating two CarbinX carbon-capture systems at its Wall headquarters.

These units, the first of their kind in operation in New Jersey, connect to the company’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, where they capture carbon emissions from the building that otherwise would be emitted as flue exhaust. The units also improve the overall efficiency of the facility’s water heater by converting waste heat to heated water — thus, decreasing water heater usage, reducing emissions and lowering energy costs.

The true impact could be much greater.

For starters, CarbinX is a breakthrough technology that converts carbon emissions into a nontoxic solid called pearl ash. Pearl ash can be repurposed for different applications, including commercial products such as soaps and detergents and durable building materials.

But New Jersey Resources CEO Steve Westhoven said the real potential is the unknown. This breakthrough technology, he said, is just the latest example of NJR using technology to impact climate change. And it certainly won’t be the last, he said.

“The innovation curve has just started,” he said. “When you get companies like CarbinX and other entities that start concentrating on, ‘How do we go about reducing our emissions?’ and doing that in the most cost-effective way possible, which inevitably is going to be using much of our existing infrastructure, which is already purchased and paid for by all of our customers.”

Each CarbinX unit is about the size of two residential refrigerators — making it easily usable in any commercial property.

This ease of use is important, Westhoven said.

“It’s really important as we go through this energy transition, to consider what innovation is happening now what innovation can happen in the future – and how do we do this in such a way that we maintain reliability, affordability, customer choice, and all the things that are important, and really focus on the objective of lowering carbon emissions.

“And if you put all those in the same line of consideration, things like this are going to be really important.”

NJNG Chief Operating Officer Patrick Migliaccio agreed.

“Innovation is critical to achieving our climate and emissions reduction goals in a way that is affordable, reliable and achievable,” he said. “The carbon capture units installed at our Wall headquarters are part of NJNG’s broader decarbonization strategy to reduce emissions from our operations and support New Jersey’s climate objectives in a way that is easy to adopt.”

Migliaccio said NJNG is engaging with a third party to perform monitoring, data collection and an in-depth evaluation to fully understand the systems’ real-world benefits. This information will enable NJNG to inform customers and state policymakers about the potential of this technology to increase efficiency and reduce emissions, he said.

“Distributed carbon capture is about more than just reducing emissions; it is also about maximizing the efficiency of the energy we use,” he said. “As a flue gas economizer, these carbon-capture units can help businesses use less energy while lowering their carbon footprint. We look forward to learning from this project and identifying future opportunities.”

Jaeson Cardiff, founder and CEO of CarbinX maker CleanO2, based in Calgary, Alberta, said distributed carbon-capture technology, like CarbinX, is designed to provide a practical solution for natural gas customers to manage and reduce their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

These components can be installed in existing buildings without disrupting HVAC systems, he said.

“We are excited to expand CarbinX into New Jersey,” he said. “Our technology provides commercial businesses a practical approach to building decarbonization in a way that does not require major alterations to how they use energy. We are hopeful this installation at NJNG will be significant proof of concept for our units; and we’re eager to see how this two-unit installation can educate us on how to further deploy our technology more broadly.”

NJNG’s carbon-capture project is part of NJR’s broader decarbonization vision and commitment to building a cleaner energy future that prioritizes sustainability and reliability. Highlights of the company’s progress include:

  • Achieving the highest single-year investment of $59 million (fiscal 2023) in NJNG’s energy-efficiency programs — cutting carbon emissions by helping customers reduce their energy consumption.
  • Advancing cutting-edge, lower-carbon energy solutions that include carbon-capture technology and high-efficiency natural gas heat pumps in NJR’s facilities.
  • Collaborating with leading academic and industry research organizations to support emissions reduction and innovation efforts.

Company officials said these are just some of the reasons why New Jersey Resources has been named one of America’s Most Responsible Companies by Newsweek for the fifth consecutive year — one of only 156 companies nationwide to be recognized annually since 2020.

Westhoven said the company’s commitment to the state — and its clean energy policies — is a big reason why.

He points to the company’s commitment to volunteering in the community it serves, including more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service — nearly double the amount of the previous year, including projects dedicated to ecosystem and natural resource enhancements as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

He also points to the company’s history of innovation — whether it’s incentives programs that credit customers back for gas supply not used, energy efficiency programs or its commitment to solar (NJR is one of the largest solar owner operators in the state, he said).

“Aligning ourselves with policy — and societal push — has been natural for the company,” Westhoven said. “The CarbinX units that you see downstairs that are able to reduce emissions from natural gas usage are aligned perfectly with a lot of the environmental objectives that are taking place in the state.

“This is a win-win. And we’re just getting started.”