Want to capture carbon? Look to nanomaterials

● By Prof. Christopher Sumby, Deputy Director, Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials ● Much of Australia’s large scale electricity generation comes from coal-fired power plants. Given the cost of building alternative electricity infrastructure and Australia’s large reserves of coal, this is likely to continue in the near future. Unfortunately, the CO2 produced from burning coal is a major source of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to man-made climate change. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes are an ideal stop-gap technology to mitigate these environmental problems, while allowing the country to continue reaping the benefits of the coal industry. But currently devised schemes are highly energy-intensive and costly. Recently, a research project that I’m involved in has developed a new nanomaterial that could offer a more efficient alternative to current carbon capture technologies. The problem with capturing carbon Pilot demonstrations of carbon capture schemes are already underway, including an Australian project at a site in Victoria, where CO2-rich waste gas is being stored in a depleted natural gas field. However, two major challenges need to be addressed to make the technology feasible on large scales. The first is the need to find ways to separate CO2 after burning the coal. The most popular method is using adsorbents (materials that can chemically absorb other materials) that can separate CO2 from flue gas. Flue gas, the gas produced by coal combustion, is a mix of nitrogen, oxygen, oxides of sulphur, and water. Flue gas is passed through the adsorbent, where chemicals in the solution bind to CO2 and separate it from the other gases. But separating CO2 from the flue gas mixture presents a major challenge – it uses a lot of energy. The adsorbent can be reused, but to do so the chemical reaction has to be reversed, and this takes heat ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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