UK researchers have created a low cost, new material that can capture harmful gases, offering an exciting breakthrough in combating atmospheric pollution.
The porous material, dubbed NOTT-300, has the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions through the cheaper and more efficient capture of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).
The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrates how the exciting properties of NOTT-300 could provide a greener alternative to existing solutions to adsorb CO2 which are expensive and use large amounts of energy.
The new material represents a major step towards addressing the challenges of developing the Low Carbon Economy, which seeks to produce energy using low carbon sources and methods.
Professor Martin Schröder, Dean of the Faculty of Science at The University of Nottingham, led the research in collaboration with ISIS, the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) world-leading neutron and muon source in Oxfordshire. He said: “Our novel material has potential application in carbon capture technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
• The reduction of CO2 and SO2 from flue gases in large industrial emitters, such as fossil fuelled power stations, and
“The new material offers the opportunity for the development of an ‘easy on/easy off’ capture system that carries fewer economic and environmental penalties than existing technologies. It could also find application in gas separation processes where the removal of carbon dioxide or acidic gases such as sulphur dioxide is required.”
Dr Sihai Yang from Nottingham added: “The capture of sulphur dioxide is also very important for the environment as it can prevent the formation of acid rain which has a significant environmental impact.”
Professor Schröder said: “The material shows high uptake of CO2 and SO2. In the case of SO2, this is the highest reported for the class of materials to date. It is also selective for these gases, with other gases – such as hydrogen, methane, nitrogen, oxygen – showing no or very little adsorption into the pores.”
Dr Ramirez-Cuesta in describing the mechanism of NOTT-300 said: “One could envisage a system that consists of two large containers that contain this material. If you flow the exhaust gases from a power station through the first container, the material will selectively capture the carbon dioxide. When the material is saturated, the exhaust gases are diverted to the second container where the process continues. The full container is disconnected from the system and the CO2 is removed using a vacuum and collected. The regenerated container can then be reconnected and used repeatedly.”
Professor Schröder said: “It is widely accepted that it is imperative that the CO2 footprint of human activity is reduced in order to limit the negative effects of global climate change.
And NOTT-300 delivers on each of these criteria. Because of this, the new discovery could signal a marked improvement in terms of environmental and chemical sustainability.
Professor Martin Schröder and Dr Sihai Yang led a team of researchers from the University of Nottingham in collaboration with colleagues from the STFC ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Diamond Light Source, the University of Oxford and Peking University in China.
“There is no doubt that this is potentially a very exciting material that has been supported by world class research and access to state-of-the-art facilities such as ISIS.”
David Delpy, Chief Executive of The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which funded the research via a £4.1 million platform grant, said:
ISIS is a world-leading centre for research in physical and life sciences operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK. www.isis.stfc.ac.uk. ISIS produces beams of neutrons and muons that allow scientists to study materials at the atomic level using a suite of instruments, often described as a set of ‘super-microscopes’. ISIS supports an international community of over 2000 scientists who use neutrons and muons for research in physics, chemistry, materials science, geology, engineering and biology. It is the most productive research centre of its type in the world.
The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via research Councils UK
The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.
It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
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Last updated: 21 March 2016