Removing CO2 from flue gas (that toxic mixture of air, CO2, sulfur, mercury and more) is an important step in figuring out how to prevent the CO2 from helping to cause global warming. But current technology has a hard time doing it. Traditionally, bubbling it through water with amines has been used to pick up CO2. But then releasing the CO2 from the solution requires tons of heat, and it's expensive to heat up water.
Which is why researchers have been working on developing a solid substrate for the amines. Something that could capture CO2 at low temperatures and then release the CO2 at slightly higher temperatures. But until Chris Jones and his team at the Georgia Institute of Technology hit the scene, there had been little success.
Chris has developed a solid material that is extremely inexpensive to produce, holds onto CO2 with iron-fisted amines and gently lets go when heated. Chris says these hyperbranched aminosilica compounds could easily be synthesized on an industrial scale.
Of course, this is only the first step in pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. A system has to be developed to get the flue gas to interact with the compound at relatively low temperatures inexpensively. And then the aminosilica has to transport and release its CO2 somewhere where it won't do any damage (say...a big biofuel producing algae farm...for example.)
written by Spencer Ashby, March 13, 2008
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