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CO2 capturing can be achieved using waste-derived materials

Posted August 7, 2016

More and more scientists are getting involved in projects, seeking to perfect the technology of capturing carbon dioxide. It is very important, as it may eventually provide a long-term solution to the problem. Now scientists from University of York conducted a research, proving that special compounds made from waste can be used for CO2 capturing.

CO2 capturing should help countries meet strict CO2 emission reduction targets. Image credit: Gyre via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

CO2 capturing should help countries meet strict CO2 emission reduction targets. Image credit: Gyre via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

It is a special kind of waste though – peelings and seaweed, which are used to create renewable materials called Starbons. These compounds are already being used in a variety of applications in the industry, such as separating complex mixtures of organic chemicals, removing odours in household and medical applications and recovering valuable metals from waste streams. Starbons were discovered ten years ago. However, now scientists conducted a research, which reveals true potential of this compound.  As it turns out, Starbons are extremely efficient in CO2 capturing applications.

Scientists discovered that Starbons are as much as 65% more efficient at absorbing CO2, emitted from industrial sites, than other currently used methods. Having in mind this compound can be made from potato peals, this discovery opens doors for extremely environmentally friendly and efficient CO2 cleaning solutions for power stations or chemical plants. The secret of efficiency is hidden in the structure of Starbons. Professor Michael North, one of the authors of the study, explained: “Their structure is like a Swiss cheese. Only a small number of holes are visible on the surface, but when you cut into the cheese, more holes become visible. In Starbons, it’s this network of different sized pores that enables the CO2 absorption”.

There are other important characteristics of Starbons. For example, they are very selective – they can absorb CO2 even in nitrogen-rich environment or in water vapour. Furthermore, they are cheaper and require less energy to produce than currently used amines in liquid solutions. Starbons are already being produced in many forms, which means that they are suitable for mass production and would not be too difficult to introduce in this new application.

Capturing and safe disposal of CO2 would solve a major portion of our greenhouse emission problem. However, the technology itself has to be green. This potato and seaweed derived material might as well be the long-awaited solution.


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