Scientists recently developed a molecule that can capture wayward fluorocarbons, known to be a class of very potent greenhouse gases (GHGs), like a sponge.
In a paper recently published in Nature Communications, Ognjen Miljanic and his team from the from the University of Houston said that the molecule that they developed comes together as a sort of microscopic net that can reign in a lot of fluorocarbons.
It’s ironic that the fluorocarbons that are used as refrigerants in air conditioners could heat up the planet so badly as a greenhouse gas. That is why extra care should be taken in discharging and recharging them in heat exchangers and cooling systems. While compounds that capture these GHGs are available, they have a number of limitations that reduce the yield in recovery operations, such as their sensitivity to water, weight and the difficulty in recycling them.
On the other hand, the molecule that Miljanic’s team made packs a lot of punch. Miljanic says that the molecule “self assembles into a structure that can capture these greenhouse vapors to the tune of 75 percent by weight.” He continues, “this molecule could be used to capture Freons from disposed refrigeration systems, for example, or to concentrate them prior to analysis of their content.”
In addition, the new molecule is not only water tolerant, they are also easy to recycle, unlike existing fluorocarbon capturing compounds, opening up a myriad of possibilities in fluorocarbon recovery and recycling. In other words, this allows us to recover more of the refrigerant, minimizing those that end up as a greenhouse gas.
Now is that cool or what?