Developing special materials that can capture CO2

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The most common technology used to capture CO2 from flue gas is the use of amines. However, this is an energy intensive process. SINTEF develops materials that can capture CO2 by adsorption.

​A 3D-printed mould in stainless steel to create MOF monoliths. The material inside is UTSA-16 (cobalt-based MOF).

 

EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT absorption is, but perhaps not adsorption. This is a process where gas binds to the surface of a solid. This is a process that takes place in nature all the time, which is also used for industrial purposes and in catalytic converters in cars.

A distinction is made between pressure swing adsorption (PSA) and temperature swing adsorption (TSA), depending on whether pressure differences or temperature differences bind and release the gasses. Researchers at SINTEF are developing methods to use this technique to capture CO2 in a cost-effective manner.

"The adsorbents that are being developed contain special hybrid materials (MOF) that are formed into monolithic structures, or "columns" with very small corridors that the gas can flow through," says Carlos Grande, project manager and senior researcher at SINTEF.

The monoliths are produced by means of 3D printers.

"The goal is to create as large a sur- face area as possible to bind the CO2.

For now, the monoliths are just small models of what Grande envisions for the future.

"At present the materials are very costly to produce, and they cannot be produced in the volumes or dimensions that will be necessary for practical  use," says Grande.

So far, the researchers have pro- duced and tested 200 grams of an MOF material that called UTSA-16.

"This is the best MOF we know about at present, and we are looking into how it can be used for the simultaneous production of H2 and CO2 from natural gas," says Grande.

He stresses that his research has a 10-year perspective for commercialisation.

"We are far from a finished product, but the method is very promising for future hydrogen scrubbing and CO2 capture."

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