Chemists unveil cheaper, more efficient carbon capture technology

"It defies current accepted scientific understanding of the efficiency of carbon-capturing CO2," said researcher Michael North.
By Brooks Hays  |  July 4, 2016 at 9:16 AM
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YORK, England, July 4 (UPI) -- A team of scientists in England have found a better way to capture carbon from power plant emissions.

The key to their new and improved technique is patented carbon-derived biomass material called Starbons. Starbons, which was pioneered a decade ago by scientists at the University of York, is made using biomass waste like food peelings and seaweed. Its key attribute is its porosity. Lots of tiny holes allow Starbons to capture lots of CO2.

Current carbon capture technologies mostly rely on liquid solutions, which involve expensive and energy-intensive production processes. Initial testing suggests carbon capture filters made with Starbons traps 65 percent more CO2 than other methods. The material is also more selective -- better able to capture CO2 when it is mixed with gases like nitrogen.

Because it's relatively cheap and easy to produce, researchers at York hope Starbons filters will become widespread atop the smokestacks of power plants in Europe and elsewhere.

"This work is of fundamental importance in overturning established wisdom associated with gas capture by solids," Michael North, Professor of Green Chemistry at York, said in a news release. "It defies current accepted scientific understanding of the efficiency of carbon-capturing CO2."

The researcher detailed the new carbon capture technology in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

"The high CO2 adsorption, high selectivity, rapid kinetics and water tolerance, combined with the low cost and ease of large scale production from waste biomass, gives Starbons great potential," added James Clark, head of York's Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence. "We hope to offer the product as a commercial capture agent for separating CO2 from chemical or power station waste streams."

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