WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- American scientists developed a technique that can remove carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plant emissions as they were inspired by scuba diving gear.
The study published on Thursday in the journal Chem showed a kind of solid sorbent like soda lime used in scuba rebreathers and submarines to prevent the poisonous accumulation of carbon dioxide gas, could be used to treat the carbon-rich flue gas released by thermal power plants.
This carbon dioxide scrubber requires 24 percent less energy than industrial benchmark solution, according to researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) under the U.S. Department of Energy.
The researchers found a class of organic compounds called BIGs can capture carbon as flue gas is bubbled through the aqueous BIG solution, causing carbon dioxide molecules to stick to the sorbent and crystallized into a sort of organic limestone.
The limestone can be filtered out and heated at 120 degrees Celsius to release the carbon dioxide so it can be stored permanently. The sorbent can then be reused.
"The lower energy required for regeneration is expected to significantly reduce the cost of carbon capture, which is critical considering that billions of tons of carbon dioxide need to be captured every year to make a measurable impact on the climate," said the paper's senior author Radu Custelcean, a research scientist at ORNL.
However, the technique has relatively low carbon capacity and absorption rate currently, so the researchers combine it with traditional sorbents like amino acids.
"We are also adjusting the process so it can be applied to carbon dioxide separation directly from the atmosphere in an energy-efficient and cost-effective way," said Custelcean.