A system is described for forming metal hydroxide from a metal carbonate utilizing a water electrolysis cell having an acid-producing anode and a hydroxyl-producing cathode immersed in a water solution of sufficient ionic content to allow an electric current to pass between the hydroxyl-producing cathode and the acid-producing anode. A metal carbonate, in particular water-insoluble calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate, is placed in close proximity to the acid-producing anode. A direct current electrical voltage is provided across the acid-producing anode and the hydroxyl-producing cathode sufficient to generate acid at the acid-producing anode and hydroxyl ions at the hydroxyl-producing cathode. The acid dissolves at least part of the metal carbonate into metal and carbonate ions allowing the metal ions to travel toward the hydroxyl-producing cathode and to combine with the hydroxyl ions to form the metal hydroxide. The carbonate ions travel toward the acid-producing anode and form carbonic acid and/or water and carbon dioxide. Among other uses, the metal hydroxide formed can be employed to absorb acid gases such as carbon dioxide from a gas mixture. The invention can also generate hydrogen and oxidative gases such as oxygen or chlorine.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344 between the United States Department of Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.