University Of Texas Presents Fastest New Carbon Storage Technology

University Of Texas Presents Fastest New Carbon Storage Technology - Carbon Herald

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have made a significant leap in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. They’ve developed a method for creating carbon dioxide hydrates – substances that trap carbon dioxide like ice – at an unprecedented speed, eliminating the need for harmful chemicals.

This research, published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, offers a promising solution for tackling climate change.  

“We’re staring at a huge challenge — finding a way to safely remove gigatons of carbon from our atmosphere — and hydrates offer a universal solution for carbon storage. For them to be a major piece of the carbon storage pie, we need the technology to grow them rapidly and at scale,” said Vaibhav Bahadur, a professor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering who led the research. 

“We’ve shown that we can quickly grow hydrates without using any chemicals that offset the environmental benefits of carbon capture.”

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Carbon dioxide is the main culprit behind global warming, and capturing it from the atmosphere is crucial for slowing climate change. Current methods, like injecting CO2 underground, have limitations, including leakage risks and limited geographical applicability.  

Hydrates offer a more versatile option for large-scale carbon storage. Bahadur refers to them as a potential “plan A” for carbon capture, if some key challenges can be addressed.  

Until now, the slow formation process has hindered their practicality.

This new research overcomes that hurdle. The scientists achieved a sixfold increase in hydrate formation speed compared to existing methods. This dramatic improvement, coupled with the elimination of harmful chemicals, paves the way for large-scale implementation.

Magnesium: The Secret Ingredient

The key to this breakthrough lies in magnesium, which acts as a catalyst, removing the need for chemical promoters. The process also utilizes seawater, eliminating the need for complex desalination steps.

“Hydrates are attractive carbon storage options since the seabed offers stable thermodynamic conditions, which protects them from decomposing.” Bahadur said. 

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“We are essentially making carbon storage available to every country on the planet that has a coastline; this makes storage more accessible and feasible on a global scale and brings us closer to achieving a sustainable future.”

The benefits of this research extend beyond carbon capture. The ultrafast formation process for hydrates holds promise for applications in desalination, gas separation, and gas storage, offering a multi-purpose solution for various industries.

The research team has filed patents for the technology and is exploring commercialization possibilities through a potential startup.

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