September 13, 2010

Scientists Develop Carbon Dioxide “˜Sponge’

Australian scientists said Monday they are planning to develop a "molecular sponge" which they hope will soak up carbon gases and help fight greenhouse gas pollution.

Researchers at Sydney University have produced crystals full of small holes that can soak up gases like carbon dioxide, which they believe will eventually be used in places where these gases are produced.

"You could think of them a little bit like your kitchen sponge," lead researcher and postdoctoral fellow Deanna D'Alessandra told ABC Radio.

She said that the chemical frameworks are full of so many tiny pores that they have greater surface area than their size portrays. 

"So if you thought of all of the area inside of the little pores of the sponge, then in fact it would add up to an incredible amount," D'Alessandra added.

"So in fact if you took a teaspoon of one of the best materials we have at the moment, then it would actually have a surface area of about a rugby field, which is pretty amazing," she said.

D'Alessandra said these molecular sponges could potentially withstand the high temperatures in power stations.

The process of soaking the sponges with carbon dioxide could also be reversible, which could allow the gas to be released under certain conditions.

The scientists say that the sponge is not ready for commercial adaptation yet, but they hope it will one day become available.


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