New process strips CO2 from the air

Posted by Kate Taylor

Scientists say they've found a better, cheaper way to remove carbon dioxide  from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere.

Alain Goeppert, G K Surya Prakash, chemistry Nobel Laureate George A Olah and colleagues say their process achieves one of the highest carbon dioxide removal rates ever reported for real-world conditions where the air contains moisture.

Existing methods tend to be energy intensive and inefficient. But, in research published by the American Chemical Society, the group's used solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material.

After capturing the carbon dioxide, says the team, the materials give it up easily, so that the CO2 can be used in making other substances, or permanently isolated from the environment.

The capture material then can be recycled and reused many times over without losing efficiency, they say.

The researchers suggest the materials could be useful in closed environments such as submarines, or could capture it at source in smokestacks.

The process could also be used out in the open atmosphere, where they could clean up carbon dioxide pollution that comes from small point sources like cars or home heaters - which represent about half of the total CO2 emissions related to human activity.