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Scientific discovery offers ‘green’ solution in fight against greenhouse gases
24 September 2012
Nottingham, University of
A low-cost new material that could lead to innovative technologies to tackle global warming has been discovered by scientists at The University of Nottingham.
The porous material, named NOTT-300, has the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions through the cheaper and more efficient capture of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrates how the exciting properties of NOTT-300 could provide a greener alternative to existing solutions to adsorb CO2 which are expensive and use large amounts of energy.
The new material represents a major step towards addressing the challenges of developing a low carbon economy, which seeks to produce energy using low carbon sources and methods.
Professor Martin Schröder, Dean of the Faculty of Science at The University of Nottingham, led the research. He said: “Our novel material has potential for applications in carbon capture technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“It offers the opportunity for the development of an ‘easy on/easy off’ capture system that carries fewer economic and environmental penalties than existing technologies. It could also find application in gas separation processes where the removal of CO2 or acidic gases such as SO2 is required.”
Carbon footprint reduction
The researchers understand the significance of their findings due to the importance of tackling greenhouse gases.
Professor Schröder said: “It is widely accepted that it is imperative that the CO2 footprint of human activity is reduced in order to limit the negative effects of global climate change.
“There are powerful drivers to develop efficient strategies to remove CO2 using alternative materials that simultaneously have high adsorption capacity, high selectivity for CO2 and high rates of regeneration at an economically viable cost.”
And NOTT-300 delivers on each of these criteria. Because of this, the new discovery could signal a marked improvement in terms of environmental and chemical sustainability.
The material is economically viable to produce because it is synthesised from relatively simple and cheap organic materials with water as the only solvent.
High uptake of CO2 and SO2
Professor Schröder said: “The material shows high uptake of CO2 and SO2. In the case of SO2, this is the highest reported for the class of materials to date. It is also selective for these gases, with other gases – such as hydrogen, methane, nitrogen, oxygen – showing no or very little adsorption into the pores.”
In addition to high uptake capacity and selectivity, it is also very easy to release the adsorbed gas molecules through simple reduction of pressure. The material has high chemical stability to all common organic solvents and is stable in water and up to temperatures of 400°C.
The team and funding
Professor Martin Schröder and Dr Sihai Yang led a team of researchers from the University’s School of Chemistry in conjunction with colleagues from Peking University, The University of Oxford, ISIS and Diamond Light Source. The team used the ISIS facility and the Diamond Synchrotron beam to gain important structural information about how the gases bind to the host material and to understand the properties of the NOTT-300 that make it selectively adsorb CO2 and SO2.
The research was funded by the ERC Advanced Grant COORDSPACE and ChemEnSus, an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Programme Grant.