Using ZIFs to for CO2 capture – UCLA Scientists Breakthrough

This entry was posted by Monday, 1 March, 2010
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This post is a couple of years old, but useful all the same.

UCLA chemists report a major advance in the journal Science.

Their findings could lead to power plants efficiently capturing carbon dioxide without using toxic materials.

“The technical challenge of selectively removing carbon dioxide has been overcome,” said Omar M. Yaghi, UCLA’s Christopher S. Foote Professor of Chemistry and co-author of the Science paper. “Now we have structures that can be tailored precisely to capture carbon dioxide and store it like a reservoir, as we have demonstrated. No carbon dioxide escapes. Nothing escapes — unless you want it to do so. We believe this to be a turning point in capturing carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.”

The carbon dioxide is captured using a new class of materials designed by Yaghi and his group called zeolitic imidazolate frameworks, or ZIFs. These are porous and chemically robust structures, with large surface areas, that can be heated to high temperatures without decomposition and boiled in water or organic solvents for a week and still remain stable.

“The selectivity of ZIFs to carbon dioxide is unparalleled by any other material,” according a team member. The inside of a ZIF can store gas molecules. Flaps that behave like the chemical equivalent of a revolving door allow certain molecules — in this case, carbon dioxide — to pass through and enter the reservoir while blocking larger molecules or molecules of different shapes.

Currently, the process of capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants involves the use of toxic materials and requires 20 to 30 percent of the plant’s energy output. By contrast, ZIFs can pluck carbon dioxide from other gases that are emitted and can store five times more carbon dioxide than the porous carbon materials that represent the current state-of-art.

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