Emissions from coal power stations could be drastically reduced by a new, energy-efficient material that absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide, and then releases it when exposed to sunlight, reports R&D Magazine.
Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said a photosensitive metal organic framework — or MOF, a class of materials known for their exceptional capacity to store gases — could be a powerful and inexpensive new tool to capture and store, or potentially recycle, carbon dioxide.
Sunlight would release the stored carbon, researchers said, overcoming problems with current, energy-intensive methods of carbon capture where liquid capture materials have to be heated in a prolonged process to release the carbon dioxide for storage.
The new energy efficient material MOFs are clusters of metal atoms connected by organic molecules. The material has extremely high internal surface area —that could cover an entire football field in a single gram— which can store large volumes of gas.
The researchers, led by Professor Matthew Hill of CSIRO, will now optimize the material to increase the efficiency of carbon dioxide to levels suitable for an industrial environment.
“The MOF can release the adsorbed carbon dioxide when irradiated with light found in sunlight, just like wringing out a sponge,” Richelle Lyndon says. “The MOF we discovered had a particular affinity for carbon dioxide. However, the light responsive molecules could potentially be combined with other MOFs, making the capture and release technology appropriate for other gases.”
The study which is published in Angewandte Chemie, was supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.