Chemists at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology have discovered a more efficient, less expensive and reusable material for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and separation.
The breakthrough could have implications for a new generation of clean-air technologies and offers new tools for confronting the world’s challenges in controlling carbon. Publishing this month in the prestigious journal Nature, the international group of scientists has identified a previously underused material – known as SIFSIX-1-Cu – that offers a highly efficient mechanism for capturing CO2.
The discovery represents more than an improvement over existing materials in terms of carbon capture, said USF Chemistry Professor Mike Zaworotko, noting that the material also is highly-effective at carbon capture even in the presence of water vapor, a standard that other materials have not been able to meet. This makes it a promising candidate for real-world applications. Water normally interferes with CO2 capture, but the material developed in the USF-KAUST project resists it. “I hate to use the word ‘unprecedented’ but we have something unprecedented,” Zaworotko said. “We sort of hit a sweet spot in terms of properties.”
The discovery addresses one the biggest challenges of capturing CO2 before it enters the atmosphere: energy costs associated with the separation and purification of industrial commodities currently consumes around 15 percent of global energy production. The demand for such commodities is projected to triple by 2050, the researchers note. The problem is pronounced in capturing CO2, which in addition to its notoriety with climate change, is an impurity in natural gas, biogas and other gas streams, they said.
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