Converting fossil fuels into hydrogen seems to be picking up quite a speed, with scientists looking for ways to make use of the petrol-producing facilities and turn them into hydrogen refill stations. The technique, which is now being explored, is called integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), but its biggest limitation is the release of CO2 as a byproduct.
Scientists from University of Liverpool took on the task to find a way to capture this CO2, and deliver it to storage facilities in a usable form, preventing it from escaping in the atmosphere. They developed a polymer made of carbon-based molecules, that can safely absorb the gas in the pores between these molecules. As a result, the polymer swells and safely contains the greenhouse gas.
The new polymer has a sandy texture and brown colour. It works particularly efficiently when placed under high pressure, which makes it different from all other existing polymers and very suitable for use in the IGCC. When removed from the high-pressure environment, the CO2 is released, and can be moved to a storage facility for future use. According to the team, the material is highly robust, and very cheap to produce.
Although the idea behind using materials to capture carbon is not new, this is the first time such polymer has the ability to only absorb CO2 and not the water vapour. This makes it particularly useful at carbon-emitting facilities, where it could be used as a new mean for capturing carbon.
The discovery was presented at the very exciting 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which took place in San Francisco last week. The new polymer was among the numerous highly innovative green technologies, including the pseudo-graphene made of hemp that turned quite a number of heads around.
Image (c) university of Liverpool