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Imitating nature for improved CO2 capture

By Chemical Engineering |

Researchers from the University of Sydney (Australia; http://www.usyd.edu.au) are developing structures, analogous to some sea creatures, for capturing carbon dioxide that is released when producing hydrogen from biomass. The project, funded by German energy company E.ON AG (Düsseldorf), will use renewable sources such as wood and agricultural waste, and plastics, for producing H2. “We found that calcium-oxide-based sorbents were the most effective and Echinodermata — sea creatures which include starfish and sea urchins — already provided the perfect templates for the structure we sought,” says team leader Andrew Harris, of the university’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Those creatures have a skeleton of calcium carbonate (photo, left), which is ideal for carbon capture, he says. The team aims to create a structure (photo, right) with much-smaller (less than 2 nm) and more-numerous pores, with an even greater capacity to capture CO2, due to its large surface area. The structure, composed of calcium oxides, combines chemically with CO2, to produce calcium carbonate. When heated to 700°C, the structure releases the CO2. Since the structure has a high temperature resistance and…
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