Capturing CO2 Using Copper at High Electric Potential

This entry was posted by Monday, 25 January, 2010
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In the entire carbon capture and storage process chain, the stage that is most costly is the carbon capture part. Some studies estimate that the capture portion alone would contribute over 75% of the total cost.

Thus, it is no surprise that many scientists and engineers are keen on finding innovative ways to cut down the costs of CO2 capture.

A group of scientists has now found a copper complex that is capable of reacting with carbon dioxide at a slightly elevated electric potential. The process turns the carbon dioxide into a usable byproduct which can be recycled and reused for this purpose multiple times.

An easy way to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is to find a chemical that combines easily with it, similar to the way that some metals oxidize. Unlike oxygen however, CO2 cannot combine so easily with other materials.

This group of scientists appear to have found an interesting solution: They found a certain dinuclear copper (I) complex that turns green when exposed to air under a slight electric potential (-0.03 volts), owing to the reaction with carbon dioxide and “capturing” it.

The result of the reaction was a tetranulcear copper complex with two oxalate groups. To minimize the wastage of copper, the researchers found that they could wash the oxalate from the copper complex. After this process was complete, the copper complex was returned to its original state and was ready to react with more carbon dioxide.

But wait. All these are working OK at lab level, but apparently they work way too slowly for any commercial use.

I guess this is at a pure research stage right now, and unless I see more efficient and speedy processes in this context, I guess these types of ideas will remain at the lab stages for much longer.


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