Capturing carbon dioxide is viewed as one way to fight global warming, but the current methods to do that require a lot of energy, making it hard to capture the greenhouse gases efficiently.
A group of scientists from Kyoto University, the Univerity of Tokyo and Jiangsu Normal University in China developed a new material that can capture CO2 molecules and convert them into organic materials without requiring a lot of energy. Their work was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers developed a PCP to capture CO2
"We have successfully designed a porous material which has a high affinity towards CO2 molecules and can quickly and effectively convert it into useful organic materials," said Ken-ichi Otake, Kyoto University materials chemist from the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in a press release highlighting the results of their work.
The material developed by the researchers is a porous coordination polymer that consists of zinc metal icons. Using an X-ray structural analysis, the researchers tested the material and found it selectively captures CO2 molecules with an efficiency that is ten times better than other porous coordination polymers or PCPs.
As the CO2 molecules approach the material, which has a propeller-like molecular structure, they rearrange and rotate to trap the CO2 and change the molecular channels in the PCP. That enables it to recognize molecules by their size and their shape.
The CO2 capturing material can be reused
The PCP can also be reused. The scientists found the efficiency didn't decrease after ten reaction cycles. Once the carbon is captured the material it is converted and can be used to make polyurethane, which has a ton of applications including in clothing, appliances, and packaging.
"One of the greenest approaches to carbon capture is to recycle the carbon dioxide into high-value chemicals, such as cyclic carbonates which can be used in petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals," says Susumu Kitagawa, materials chemist at Kyoto University. The scientists said the work highlights the potential PCPs have in traping CO2 and changing it into materials that are useful. They called for future research to be done in the area.