Charles Seipp, a graduate student in chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, has helped discover a new method for capturing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and releasing it into long term storage.
Seipp, currently doing research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and his colleagues synthesized a simple chemical solution with the original goal of binding to pollutants in water. This compound had the special property that once it bound to a pollutant it formed a crystal structure which would no longer dissolve in water, and therefore could be filtered out. Seipp and his team found that, surprisingly, the same process happened when the solution was exposed to air over a period of days, and after some tests, found that it was binding to CO2 in the air.
Carbon capture technology is typically focused at the site of industrial or energy production before the greenhouse gas is released to the air, since the concentration of CO2 is too low elsewhere. Nevertheless, this new method, based on a family of chemicals called guanidines, is a step towards ambient air carbon capture.
One of the challenges of carbon capture technology is the release of the CO2, since it must be released to be stored somewhere else, such as underground. One exciting property of this chemical is that the CO2 can be released by simply heating the crystals to around 100 degrees Celsius. The chemical can then be used again to capture more CO2.
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