Carbon Capture Method Takes Inspiration from Scuba Gear to Scrub CO2 off Power Plants

The new technology is 24% more efficient than other carbon capture and storage technologies on the market.

CCS or carbon capture storage technology is a powerful new tool in the arsenal of weapons needed to combat pollution and global warming as a whole. Recently published in the Journal Chem, scientists have discovered a new process that removes CO2 from power plants using a process similar to the way soda lime works in scuba diving rebreathers.

A Fresh Breath of Air

For the uninitiated, rebreathers allow scuba diver to swim underwater for hours, without the need of coming up for air. Using a substance called soda lime (no it's not a drink), divers are able to filter exhaled air, converting CO2 into solid calcium carbonate, so that the CO2 can be recycled.

Though it may seem like the best solution is to use soda lime on power plants across the globe, scientists from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have come up with a far more elegant solution.

Trapping CO2

Researchers from ORNL are using a material similar to the soda lime substance, called guanidine. Guanidine is a naturally occurring compound that is widely used in the scientific and engineering world, specifically useful in the production of plastics.

Reacting similarly to soda lime, when the compound is heated CO2 is released so that it can be stored away and even reused. The new process takes places at much lower temperatures than what is needed for the original soda lime process, meaning there is very little energy needed for the process to be completed.

This new alternative offers a very simple strategy in the realm of carbon capture storage technology requiring 24 % less energy.

As researcher Radu Custelcean has mentioned in his published paper, "The main advantage of our 'organic soda lime' is that it can be regenerated at much lower temperatures and with significantly less energy consumption compared to inorganic scrubbers."

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"The lower energy required for regeneration is expected to significantly reduce the cost of carbon capture, which is critical considering that billions of tons of CO2 need to be captured every year to make a measurable impact on the climate."

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Carbon Capture and Storage technology is any technology that can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide pro­duced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Most technologies on the market now are either inefficient or too costly. The ORNL solution is a solution that could combat these challenges in this emerging new technology.   

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