A global committee of scientists utilizes permeable, sponge-like equipment that can entangle carbon dioxide in their nooks while enabling other gases like nitrogen to pass through.
The substances are made from sugar and low-cost alkali metal salts to be inexpensive for large-scale deployment. They could be highly effective in restricting the environmental damage of coal-fired power plants.
This new project concentrates on sponge-like materials enclosing hydroxide sites in their pores. Commonly, solutions of hydroxide salts reversibly respond to carbon dioxide and configure bicarbonate salts, like baking soda, entangling the carbon dioxide. But to regenerate the hydroxide salt, the material must be heated up to 500 to 800 degrees Celsius, which is not an easy feat and not a reasonable one either.
Lead author and doctoral learner Mary Zick established that by integrating bundles of sugar molecules named cyclodextrins as a starter and boiling them along with alkali metal salts in water, we could develop sponge-like equipment that is pierced with compartments in which carbon dioxide constraints strongly but in which other gases like nitrogen pass effortlessly through.
“Coal emissions are still the No. 1 anthropogenic contributor to carbon-dioxide emissions in the world,” Milner said. “What’s nice about this work is that Mary not only found a material that’s useful for carbon-dioxide capture from coal flue gas, but she outlined the structure-property relationships that will allow us to design materials for other applications, like capturing CO2 from natural gas-fired power plants, as well as maybe even from the air, which is one of the really big challenges of our time.”