New Method for Capturing Carbon Could Be a Game Changer

A new study is showing that carbon capturing material – made from biomass – could drastically cut down on carbon emissions from manufacturing plants. The material, called Starbons, has been around for a while. But a recent entry in chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie is showing they could be up to 65 percent more effective at trapping carbon than our current measures.

Michael North, a professor of Green Chemistry at the University of York says that, “This work is of fundamental importance in overturning established wisdom associated with gas capture by solids. It defies current accepted scientific understanding of the efficiency of carbon-capturing CO2, and has the potential to be of significant commercial and governmental value in helping the UK meet its CO2 emissions reduction promises.”

The trick lies in the Starbons, which have interested scientists over the past decade. But what are these things?

A Mesoporous Material

A mesoporous material really just means something containing pores between 2 and 50 nanometers. For comparison, the average pore on your skin is around 50 microns or 50,000 nanometers. So we are talking very small here.

They are created through waste biomass and are a renewable structure comprised mainly of starch. Their porous structures allow them to capture carbon in the air, scrubbing it of the CO2.

Professor James York who heads the York’s Green Chemistry Center of Excellence describes the Starbons as an efficient way to cut down on emissions: 

“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. We hope to offer the product as a commercial capture agent for separating CO2 from chemical or power station waste streams.”

The article does not mention what happens to the Starbons once they have absorbed carbon. However new methods for storing carbon – particularly in geological formations – are giving the scientific community some promising results.

For instance, scientists recently found that carbon, when mixed with water and injected into basalt rock actually just turns back into rock. An article in the New Scientist highlights a pilot project in Iceland that has been experimenting with this method. It’s called Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS, and it creates an extremely stable environment for CO2 to solidify into rock. And best, the process only takes about 2 years because, “[w]hen CO2 dissolved in water is injected into hot basalt deep underground, it rapidly reacts with the rock to form carbonates.”

Dr. Juerg Matter, who worked on the project says the method could work all over the world

“Carbonate minerals do not leak out of the ground, thus our newly developed method results in permanent and environmentally friendly storage of CO2 emissions. On the other hand, basalt is one of the most common rock type on Earth, potentially providing one of the largest CO2 storage capacity.”

And although the method is expensive, the article notes that it is less expensive than most commonly used carbon capturing methods. Which means, using a new low-cost method for carbon capture in combination with basalt storage could help us reduce our CO2 emissions considerably on a worldwide scale.

Photo Credit: Stefan Wernli/Wikimedia

92 comments

Tanya W
Tanya W15 days ago

Noted

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Tanya W
Tanya W15 days ago

Thank you

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JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris15 days ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

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Ruth S
Ruth S16 days ago

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Ruth S
Ruth S16 days ago

Thanks.

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Tabot T
Tabot T16 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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