Nav: Home

Crystallization method offers new option for carbon capture from ambient air

January 09, 2017

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 9, 2017 - Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found a simple, reliable process to capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air, offering a new option for carbon capture and storage strategies to combat global warming.

Initially, the ORNL team was studying methods to remove environmental contaminants such as sulfate, chromate or phosphate from water. To remove those negatively charged ions, the researchers synthesized a simple compound known as guanidine designed to bind strongly to the contaminants and form insoluble crystals that are easily separated from water.

In the process, they discovered a method to capture and release carbon dioxide that requires minimal energy and chemical input. Their results are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

"When we left an aqueous solution of the guanidine open to air, beautiful prism-like crystals started to form," ORNL's Radu Custelcean said. "After analyzing their structure by X-ray diffraction, we were surprised to find the crystals contained carbonate, which forms when carbon dioxide from air reacts with water."

Decades of research has led to the development of carbon capture and long-term storage strategies to lessen the output or remove power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas contributing to a global rise in temperatures. Carbon capture and storage strategies comprise an integrated system of technologies that collects carbon dioxide from the point of release or directly from the air, then transports and stores it at designated locations.

A less traditional method that absorbs carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere, called direct air capture, is the focus of ORNL's research described in this paper, although it could also be used at the point where carbon dioxide is emitted.

Once carbon dioxide is captured, it needs to be released from the compound so the gas can be transported, usually through a pipeline, and injected deep underground for storage. Traditional direct air capture materials must be heated up to 900 degrees Celsius to release the gas -- a process that often emits more carbon dioxide than initially removed. The ORNL-developed guanidine material offers a less energy-intensive alternative.

"Through our process, we were able to release the bound carbon dioxide by heating the crystals at 80-120 degrees Celsius, which is relatively mild when compared with current methods," Custelcean said. After heating, the crystals reverted to the original guanidine material. The recovered compound was recycled through three consecutive carbon capture and release cycles.

While the direct air capture method is gaining traction, according to Custelcean, the process needs to be further developed and aggressively implemented to be effective in combatting global warming. Also, they need to gain a better understanding of the guanidine material and how it could benefit existing and future carbon capture and storage applications.

The research team is now studying the material's crystalline structure and properties with the unique neutron scattering capabilities at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. By analyzing carbonate binding in the crystals, they hope to better understand the molecular mechanism of carbon dioxide capture and release and help design the next generation of sorbents.

The scientists also plan to evaluate the use of solar energy as a sustainable heat source to release the bound carbon dioxide from the crystals.
-end-
The study titled, "CO2 Capture from Ambient Air by Crystallization with a Guanidine Sorbent," included Charles Seipp of ORNL and the University of Texas at Austin; Neil Williams of ORNL and the University of Tennessee; and ORNL's Michelle Kidder and Radu Custelcean.

The research was funded by DOE's Office of Science.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE's Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov/.

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related Carbon Capture Articles:

Australian researchers set record for carbon dioxide capture
Researchers from Australia's Monash University and the CSIRO have set a record for carbon dioxide capture using Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs).
World can likely capture and store enough carbon dioxide to meet climate targets
The world is currently on track to fulfil scenarios on diverting atmospheric CO2 to underground reservoirs, according to a new study by Imperial.
Tax rule for industry rewards carbon capture
When it comes to encouraging manufacturers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a carrot might be more effective than a stick.
Can wood construction transform cities from carbon source to carbon vault?
A new study by researchers and architects at Yale and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research predicts that a transition to timber-based wood products in the construction of new housing, buildings, and infrastructure would not only offset enormous amounts of carbon emissions related to concrete and steel production -- it could turn the world's cities into a vast carbon sink.
Addressing committed emissions in both US and China requires carbon capture and storage
While the energy systems of the two highest-emitting countries differ, each needs to develop CCS to address their committed emissions, which threaten global climate targets.
If the world can capture carbon, there's capacity to store it
Humankind will need to harness carbon capture and storage technologies to help keep global warming to 2 degrees C or less.
New material design tops carbon-capture from wet flue gases
Chemical engineers at EPFL have designed a material that can capture carbon dioxide from wet flue gasses better than current commercial materials.
A sustainable new material for carbon dioxide capture
In a joint research study from Sweden, scientists from Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University have developed a new material for capturing carbon dioxide.
Research shows ramping up carbon capture could be key to mitigating climate change
As the world gathers in Madrid to discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, a newly released study makes the case that trapping emissions underground could go a long way toward solving the problem.
Investigation of oceanic 'black carbon' uncovers mystery in global carbon cycle
An unexpected finding published today in Nature Communications challenges a long-held assumption about the origin of oceanic black coal, and introduces a tantalizing new mystery: If oceanic black carbon is significantly different from the black carbon found in rivers, where did it come from?
More Carbon Capture News and Carbon Capture Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Graham
If former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's case for the death of George Floyd goes to trial, there will be this one, controversial legal principle looming over the proceedings: The reasonable officer. In this episode, we explore the origin of the reasonable officer standard, with the case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty with help from Kelly Prime and Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.