New "Crystal Sponge" Material Captures CO2 Emissions at Ambient Temperature and Pressure

Research describing a new material capable of substantially reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure, discovered by scientists including Clark School Department of Materials Science and Engineering research scientists Hui Wu and Wei Zhou, has been published in the July 17 issue of Nature Communications.

The emission of CO2, which is thought to contribute to global warming, is a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels. Power plants have sought to reduce the release of CO2 into the atmosphere through the use of aqueous amine solutions capable of absorbing it post-combustion.

UTSA-16, a new porous, crystaline metal-organic framework (MOF) material that acts like a "super sponge," exhibits a number of advantages over amine solutions, particularly its ability to capture, adsorb and separate an "extraordinarily high" quantity of CO2 at ambient temperatures and pressures, which greatly reduces the energy required by the process. Power plants using the amine-based capture method suffer an energy penalty of approximately 30% because heating is required to remove captured CO2 from the amine solution so it can be reused.

Although MOFs have previously shown promise as alternatives to the chemical absorption of CO2, UTSA-16 is one of the few shown to function efficiently at ambient conditions, a quality which may encourage its widespread adoption in industrial applications. UTSA-16 is also more selective than other MOFs, meaning it is less likely to adsorb other emitted gasses.

Work by Hui and Wei, conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Center for Neutron Research in Gaithersburg, Md, revealed that UTSA-16's crystal structure is the key to its ability to adsorb CO2 effectively.

Their co-authors on the work are Shengchang Xiang and Zhangjing Zhang (Fujian Normal University, China and the University of Texas at San Antonio [UTSA]), Yabing He and Banglin Chen (UTSA), and Rajamani Krishna (Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Amsterdam).

To Learn More:

See: Shengchang Xiang, Yabing He, Zhangjing Zhang, Hui Wu, Wei Zhou, Rajamani Krishna, and Banglin Chen. "Microporous Metal-Organic Framework with Potential for Carbon Dioxide Capture at Ambient Conditions." View online »

Published July 17, 2012