Researchers Find Novel, Cheaper Carbon Capture Method

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Researchers in chemistry from UC Berkeley and Stanford have created a new cost- and energy-efficient carbon capture method. The new method – which captures CO2 from smokestacks – has the potential to aid 2050 net-zero targets. 

Jeffrey Reimer, a professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering, said the scientists used different cheap materials such as laminate and formaldehyde to build an efficient “network” for capturing CO2. 

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The researchers compared the newly created melamine nanoporous networks to metal organic frameworks, a material previously used for CO2 capture. 

“We really wanted to think about carbon capture material that was derived from sources that are really cheap and easy to get,” Reimer told the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in an email interview. “Metal organic frameworks are elegant and beautiful and they are gorgeous to make. One of the things that motivated Haiyan and our colleagues was to think about ways to do that same kind of chemistry but do it on the cheap.”

Postdoctoral fellow Haiyan Mao who co-led the research said that despite the urgent need to remove CO2 emissions, energy consumption is in fact increasing. There are three globally-recognized methods to bring reductions down, he also said: energy efficiency, renewable power, and CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS). The project co-led by Mao emphasized CCS.

Melamine nanoporous networks not only make CO2 capture more cost-effective but also increase the commercial viability of the process by improving energy efficiency. 

The techniques used at the present movement need more energy and high temperatures to release and regenerate CO2 underground, while melamine networks can do the same at lower temperatures, thus saving energy.

“Overall, the goal of our research is to integrate atomic level sustainable and nanoporous materials synthesis, chemical engineering and advanced characterization techniques (e.g., solid-state NMR) to accelerate our world’s transition to a negative carbon and polluted air emissions pathway,” Mao told the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Read more: Governments Overestimate Carbon Capture Effectiveness, Report Says

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