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Solid material for energy efficient carbon capture

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology presents an important means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but energy efficiency remains an issue. Researchers have developed materials and innovative processes for more efficient and cheap carbon capture.

Climate Change and Environment

The EC has identified CCS as an important technology to achieve the EU’s 2050 carbon emission reduction objectives. CCS is an important contributor to climate change mitigation, in addition to other efforts that include renewable energy production. The EU-funded GRAMOFON project set out to improve CO2 adsorption rates in CCS technology for higher energy efficiency by preserving the texture of the sorbent material. The researchers worked on promising CCS technology based on solid sorbent materials that can regenerate much faster compared to the current alternative liquid absorption technique.

Prototyping a new CCS process

The researchers developed a prototype for a new dry separation process for CCS using hybrid porous solids called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and graphene oxide (GO) nanostructures. The team also worked on a process to efficiently desorb the CO2 from the adsorption material using specialised microwave technology. “At the end of the GRAMOFON project, very promising materials for CO2 capture have been developed based on metal organic frameworks and graphene oxide aerogels,” says project coordinator, Adolfo Benedito Borrás. The researchers discovered new properties of the composite materials they developed in the project and showed that these new materials are capable of being produced at scale in the needed shape for better adsorption. Even more impressive, researchers demonstrated the possibility of medium- to large-scale production. “The combination of adsorption properties with huge microwave susceptor behaviour allowed us to develop a material with innovative adsorption/desorption properties,” continues Adolfo Benedito Borrás. GRAMOFON developed a microwave prototype to regenerate the adsorbent material used in CCS technology. The regeneration results were remarkable, and the new materials reduced the required temperature for regeneration from 80 ºC to 50 ºC. Their CCS technology and processes required less energy for regeneration and their materials also cooled down much faster than liquid sorbents.

Material gains

GRAMOFON found that their materials can act as a catalyst to fast track the conversion of CO2 to cyclic carbonates at high yields at a lower temperature and pressure. “GRAMOFON materials have shown important improvements in energy penalty reduction, saving a CO2 avoidance cost reduction between 20-40 %, and in savings of around 50 % of CO2 emissions,” Benedito remarks. Compared to the traditional process of CO2 capture using liquid amines, the researchers estimate that their new materials and CO2 capture processes reduce the cost of energy used for CO2 capture at steel plants by 40 %. The team also estimate that cement plants would reduce their use of petroleum resources by 70 %.

Plans for scaling up

GRAMOFON registered a patent under the name ‘MW-Desorption’. Project partners intend to scale up their processes and increase their technology readiness level, TRL, to ensure that their carbon capture technology outperforms traditional vacuum processes. The team will also investigate the catalytic performance of the MOF/GO materials for CO2 conversion and further develop the technology via different EU projects. Applications abound in concrete building, fuels, chemicals, plastics production and more.

Keywords

GRAMOFON, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy, CO2 capture, adsorption, emission, microwave, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), graphene oxide (GO), greenhouse gas

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