26 April 2022

Canberra businesswoman celebrated globally for making CO2 useful

| James Coleman
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Sophia hamblin wang at cop26

Mineral Carbonation International COO Sophia Hamblin Wang delivered the winning pitch at COP26. Photo: Supplied.

The word alchemist might conjure images of an old bearded man in a long robe swirling a beaker of luminous liquid.

In reality it looks like Sophia Hamblin Wang, the woman at the forefront of a Canberra-based business locking carbon dioxide away forever into useful materials. She has just been named one of 2022’s Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum.

Sophia is the COO at Mineral Carbonation International (MCI), a company on the verge of taking its technology to the world.

In the simplest terms, the MCI technology converts CO2 from a gas into a solid by combining it with minerals. It aims to lock away one billion tonnes of CO2 into building materials and valuable products by 2040.

Smiling woman holding carbon blocks

Sophia Hamblin Wang with blocks of carbon at COP26 Climate Change Conference. Photo: Mineral Carbonation International (MCI).

The 33-year-old stole the show at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in October last year when she presented MCI’s work and revealed the realm of possibilities within the small blocks of material.

Last week, when the World Economic Forum unveiled 108 of the world’s “most promising” Young Global Leaders for 2022, Sophia found out she had made the cut.

“It is a true honour to be joining this stellar group of Young Global Leaders in 2022, working at the forefront of creating equitable and fair outcomes for the world,” she said.

“Participating in this initiative greatly aligns with the values of MCI to advance a more sustainable and inclusive world.”

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Sophia grew up in a caravan in a tiny fishing village in north Queensland. Her parents had met in Canberra, where her mother was a cleaner and her father a political refugee from pre-Tiananmen China, then working as a sous chef in Parliament House.

Towards the end of high school in 2005 she received an Order of Australia Student Citizenship Award, which took her to Brisbane to meet then-Queensland governor-general Quentin Bryce.

A few years later she came back to her parents’ meeting place in Canberra to undertake a degree in international business at the Australian National University (ANU).

By 2013, she was in MCI, working her way up to the management role she holds today.

two people hold products

Marcus Dawe (CEO) and Sophia Hamblin Wang (COO) of MCI took out the global pitch competition at COP26. Photo: MCI.

Sophia is currently a Canberra ambassador for Oz Harvest, ACT Climate Change Council member and lecturer in International Business at Sydney University.

During the selection process Sophia came directly endorsed by “friend and mentor”, Novel Prize laureate and ANU vice-chancellor of the ANU Brian Schmidt.

“I am very proud of Sophia’s leadership in creating a global company that is on a mission to build a more sustainable future,” he said.

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“I look forward to Sophia and her company turning the vision of a more sustainable planet into reality.”

Each year since 2004, the World Economic Forum announces a new class of Young Global Leaders (YGL), recognising “remarkable leaders” under the age of 40 who “exemplify hope, empathy, authenticity and the drive to develop solutions that can change the world for the better”.

As a YGL, Sophia joins a growling alliance of 1400 members and alumni representing 120 nationalities.

As a member she’ll now take part in a three-year leadership development program designed to help members “reach their next level of impact”.

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Capital Retro8:21 am 28 Apr 22

Funded for the last 7 years by the Australian governments and industry with over $20m, MCi has designed and built three carbon reactor systems, including a global reference pilot plant at the University of Newcastle. They believe theirs is the first purpose-designed pilot plant for CO2 mineral carbonation beyond laboratory scale in the world. MCi has received global recognition for their research including the 2018 Resource Innovator of the Year award at the New Materials Summit in Berlin. MCi employs around 20 chemical engineers, scientists and dedicated professionals who are driving their technology forward alongside their team of Canberra angel investors who recently contributed nearly $4m to their initial seed raise for commercialisation in 2020.

Capital Retro6:59 am 28 Apr 22

Why can’t all wheeled motor vehicles (including EVs) have their tyres inflated with CO2?

We can’t simply eliminate CO2 so it has to be stored until the next ice age when it can be released back into the atmosphere to warm things up, if you believe that theory.

Anybody involved with the World Economic Forum and Klaus Schwab needs to think wisely about what they are contributing to the future of humanity, look into their agenda and all these elitist narcissistic control freaks are only interested in destroying the global economy, controlling energy recourses and food production. Their mantra is YOU WILL OWN NOTHING AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.

True story.
When I was in high school 45 years ago, my science teacher asked the class to write a report on methods to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
Thinking I was being cleaver, I came up with the idea of a “machine” that captured the CO2 and converted it into an inert substance.
My teacher, in front of the class, asked me whether I had considered the amount of energy required to form these inert substances and whether it might be simpler to plant a tree!
45 years later, I ask this inventor the same question.

Let’s hope that this is more successful than Synrock. It promised to lock radioactive waste in man made rock, only long term tests revealed the “rock” breaking down from the radiation. Destroyed by the very thing it was trying to contain.
Mineral containment already exists in nature. The raw materials of concrete naturally occur by the billions of tonnes. Unfortunately construction using concrete releases nearly 1/3 of all human CO2. The scale required to make mineralised CO2 would have to be at this level to make a difference. How much energy is required to do this. If they could make construction materials that absorbed CO2, now that would be useful.

ChrisinTurner3:42 pm 27 Apr 22

Is this what most of us call a tree?

Maybe we should stop chopping trees down then. CO2 goes up and we chop trees down.

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