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Baking Soda Capsules Can Capture Carbon Dioxide

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micro-capsulesBaking soda has been found by US scientists as being suitable for capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Alongside with its ability to clean silver, whiten teeth, sort out belly discomforts, make up delicious soda breads and take up bad smells from carpets, baking soda has been assigned another great property – to capture carbon from the atmosphere.

A team of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are likely to have discovered a breakthrough technology using bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda) that can make carbon capture and storage cost-effective and easy to implement. Their findings were published earlier this week in Nature Communications.

At first glance, it might seem that the guys did not discover anything new. It is a well known fact, and also a very cool school science project, that dropping a bit of baking soda in a fizzy drink, the bubbles , or CO2, disappear in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, this knowledge has not taken scientists far until now, simply because the process is not efficient and therefore unsuitable for large scale implementation.

But the team from LLNL and Harvard did not want to accept that such property of a simple and cheap cooking ingredient cannot be utilized to serve a bigger and greater purpose. After years of experimenting, the scientists discovered that if bicarbonate is placed in very small plastic capsules, this increases the surface area, and therefore small number of these caviar-looking beads can capture large amounts of the greenhouse gas.

The technique definitely addresses one of the biggest issues in the field of carbon capture and storage, that of the extremely high cost. If this method is made suitable for large scale implementation, it would definitely be much cheaper than any of the existing techniques. Unfortunately, one other problem still remains unsolved, and that is the storage location, or use of the already captured carbon.

I wonder if the beads can be made out of recycled plastic. I also wonder if the new technique can somehow be combined with the product by Skyonic, the Texas-based company, who converted captured carbon into sodium bicarbonate, which is in fact baking soda. Now, that would be definitely something to consider.

Image (c) LLNL

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