- Category: Technology
31 May 2012
- Published on Thursday, 31 May 2012 10:06
- Hits (1973)
A team of American researchers have found that commonly used industrial materials called zeolites could be used to remove carbon dioxide from power plant emissions, with a lower energy cost then current systems. Carbon-capture technology use carbon absorbing materials known as amines to filter the carbon dioxide from the flue gas of fossil fuel and natural gas fired plants. The amines are then boiled to release the captured carbon dioxide which is then compressed for storage. Boiling the amines and compressing the carbon dioxide is essential to ensure it does not escape into the atmosphere, but it also results in high energy costs. In a study, scientists at Rice University, the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute, looked at possible alternatives to amines and found that industrial minerals called zeolites could also absorb and capture carbon dioxide for a lower energy cost.
"It looks like we can beat the current state-of-the-art technology by about 30 percent, and not just with one or two zeolites," said study co-author Michael Deem, Rice's John W. Cox Professor of Bioengineering and professor of physics and astronomy. Zeolites are highly porous minerals made mostly of silicon and oxygen. About 40 exist in nature and around 160 types are man-made. In 2007, Mr. Deem and colleagues calculated the atomic formulations for zeolites, completing a catalog or around 4 million varieties. Mr. Deem and the team decided to look at zeolites to see if they too could be a good carbon capture material. Focusing on the energy costs of capture, release and compression, they created a formula to calculate the energy consumption of the materials in the zeolite database. Running the calculations on graphics processing units instead of the central processing unit, they found dozens of zeolites more efficient then the amine absorbents currently used in carbon-capture technologies. The team is currently working on coupling their database of carbon absorbing zeolites with a model of a full carbon-capture and storage technology plant to test the feasibility of their applications. The research was supported by the Department of Energy, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and EPRI's Office of Technology Innovation. – EcoSeed Staff