We’ve had posts on this blog about carbon output by consumer technology, motor vehicles, and food. We’ve also posted, including quite recently, on carbon storage, often in forests. Less numerous are our posts on carbon output by power plants, probably because good news on technological advances in the field is infrequent (at least relative to the bad news). But scientists at Cornell have recently developed a nanoscale scaffold of silica that comes in the form of powder and could replace the current method of carbon capture called amine scrubbing. Anne Ju reports for the Cornell Chronicle below:
In the fight against global warming, carbon capture – chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it releases into the atmosphere – is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.
A research team led by Emmanuel Giannelis, the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has invented a powder that performs as well or better than industry benchmarks for carbon capture. A paper with their results, co-authored by postdoctoral associates Genggeng Qi and Liling Fu, appeared Dec. 12 in Nature Communications.
Used in natural gas and coal-burning plants, the most common carbon capture method today is called amine scrubbing, in which post-combustion, carbon dioxide-containing flue gas passes through liquid vats of amino compounds, or amines, which absorb most of the carbon dioxide. The carbon-rich gas is then pumped away – sequestered – or reused. The amine solution is extremely corrosive and requires capital-intensive containment.
You can read the original article from December 15th, 2014 here.