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Energy-efficient membranes for carbon capture by crystal engineering of two-dimensional nanoporous materials

Project description

Carbon capture gets a boost from energy-efficient and high-performance nanomaterials

Carbon capture technologies have a critical role to play in reducing atmospheric CO2, given the difficulty of achieving zero emissions in the near future. Amine scrubbing has been used to separate CO2 from natural gas and hydrogen for more than a century. However, the energy required is significant. The EU-funded UltimateMembranes project will develop high performance separation membranes for several carbon-capture applications using crystal engineering to develop size-selective, chemically and thermally stable, nanoporous two-dimensional membranes. They will reduce energy consumption and intensify the process, while being environmentally friendly and compatible with decentralised operation.


The EU integrated strategic energy technology plan, SET-plan, in its 2016 progress report, has called for urgent measures on the carbon capture, however, the high energy-penalty and environmental issues related to the conventional capture process (amine-based scrubbing) has been a major bottleneck. High-performance membranes can reduce the energy penalty for the capture, are environment-friendly (no chemical is used, no waste is generated), can intensify chemical processes, and can be employed for the capture in a decentralized fashion. However, a technological breakthrough is needed to realize such chemically and thermally stable, high-performance membranes. This project seeks to develop the ultimate high-performance membranes for H2/CO2 (pre-combustion capture), CO2/N2 (post-combustion capture), and CO2/CH4 separations (natural gas sweetening). Based on calculations, these membranes will yield a gigantic gas permeance (1 and 0.1 million GPU for the H2 and the CO2 selective membranes, respectively), 1000 and 10-fold higher than that of the state-of-the-art polymeric and nanoporous membranes, respectively, reducing capital expenditure per unit performance and the needed membrane area. For this, we introduce three novel concepts, combining the top-down and the bottom-up crystal engineering approaches to develop size-selective, chemically and thermally stable, nanoporous two-dimensional membranes. First, exfoliated nanoporous 2d nanosheets will be stitched in-plane to synthesize the truly-2d membranes. Second, metal-organic frameworks will be confined across a nanoporous 2d matrix to prepare a composite 2d membrane. Third, atom-thick graphene films with tunable, uniform and size-selective nanopores will be crystallized using a novel thermodynamic equilibrium between the lattice growth and etching. Overall, the innovative concepts developed here will open up several frontiers on the synthesis of high-performance membranes for a wide-range of separation processes.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 875 000,00
Batiment ce 3316 station 1
1015 Lausanne

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Région lémanique Vaud
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)