Green Solution In Fight Against Greenhouse Gases
September 24, 2012

Advances Made In Carbon Capture Technology

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Researchers are working on safer, more cost-effective carbon capture technology that could help overcome some of the obstacles currently facing projects designed to help reduce greenhouse gases and combat global climate changes, according to several recently published news reports.

On Sunday, Reuters reporter Chris Wickham detailed a new material constructed from aluminum nitrate salt, inexpensive organic materials, and water which he described as "non-toxic" and more energy efficient when it comes time to remove the saturated carbon from the absorber.

The material, known as NOTT-300, was developed by experts at Nottingham University, the University of Oxford and Peking University, and detailed in the journal Nature Chemistry. The inventors told Wickham that the material has the potential to eliminate one of the primary problems surrounding carbon capture devices -- namely, the toxic emissions which could possibly be produced by the ammonia-based materials (amines) used to absorb CO2.

"I feel this can been viewed as a revolution to a certain degree," Nottingham University's Sihai Yang, a member of the team behind NOTT-300, told Reuters. "It is non-toxic, and zero heating input is required for the regeneration. There is promising potential to overcome the traditional amine material on both environmental and economic grounds."

"When the material is saturated, the exhaust gases are diverted to the second container where the process continues," added Timmy Ramirez-Cuesta, who also worked on the material's development at the ISIS research center at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. "The full container is disconnected from the system and the CO2 is removed using a vacuum and collected. The regenerated container can then be reconnected and used repeatedly."

In their tests, the researchers reported that the substance captured nearly 100% of carbon dioxide in various experiments utilizing "a cocktail of gases," Wickham said. While that number could decrease in real-work conditions, they believe that it should still exceed 90% -- and it has also been able to pick up sulphur dioxide and other harmful gases while allowing harmless ones like oxygen to pass through.

Earlier this month, Lilian Wu, a staff writer with the Central News Agency (CNA) in China, reported on a similar breakthrough achieved by a team of Taiwanese researchers led by Chuan-Hsiung Chang, an associate professor at National Yang Ming University's Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology.

Chang and colleagues developed a new biotechnology that can absorb up to 50% more carbon dioxide, while also turning the carbon involved in the process into biomass through the process of photosynthesis. That biomass, Wu said, can then be reused by converting it into biofuel or other substances. The technology is "eco-friendly" and "does not harm the environment," Chang told the CNA.

"In the process developed by Chang and his team, microalgae grow in water that has a high concentration of dissolved CO2, which then is transported into microalgal cells through controlled gene regulation," Wu explained. "Through photosynthesis, the CO2 (and water) absorbed by the algae is transformed into carbohydrates, which can then be converted into valuable products, such as small molecule drugs, chemical compounds, and biofuels."