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Other innovations 13/01/2020

New Durable Foam May Be Breakthrough In CO2 Capture Technology

Capturing carbon dioxide is a major weapon in the fight against climate change, with the potential to limit the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Still, too many Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies are costly, inefficient and even create their own damaging effects on the environment. Thus the announcement in Sweden of a new recyclable foam material has raised hopes of a major breakthrough in CO2 capture technology.

(Credit photo : Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology) 

Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University have published details in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces of the new material: a bio-based hybrid foam that contains zeolites, porous minerals that “adsorb” carbon dioxide — meaning they are able to gather CO2 particles in a condensed layer. Zeolites have been explored as an option for CCS before, but have proven difficult to manipulate. This novel solution uses a smaller version of zeolites and suspends them in the foam. The new material is therefore densely packed with minerals that are able to capture carbon on every part of its surface, and limit the impact of emissions coming out of industrial plants.   

By using zeolites, gelatine and cellulose, the foam is more lightweight and sustainable than many of its alternatives on the market.

For example, the current leading CO2-capturing solution uses amines, compounds that are heavy, cause corrosion, and can be harmful to the environment.

While taking carbon dioxide out of amine solutions necessitates a lot of energy, the foam material is easily reusable, durable and can be produced in many formats. 

Now, the Swedish team hopes the discovery will have a real impact. According to Walter Rosas Arbelaez, a Chalmers University researcher, “We see our results as a very interesting piece of the puzzle in the search for a solution to the complex challenge of being able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere quickly enough to meet climate goals."

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