Science journal Nature Materials has reported that a consortium of scientists from the universities of Nottingham and Newcastle have collaborated with members from the Oxfordshire Diamond Light Source and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory have created a sponge-like material, known as “NOTT-202”.
NOTT-202 works by absorbing gasses under high pressure and releasing most of them back out into the atmosphere again once the pressure becomes lowered. The crucial factor is how the ‘sponge’ retains harmful greenhouse gases, such as CO2, reportedly a leading component of climate change.
The idea of using a metal organic framework to capture and store gases has been around for several years; however the difficulty comes from selectively targeting just CO2. In past examples which did successfully target CO2, it was found that the storage capacity wasn’t as high as hoped.
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The authors wrote:
“Increasing the selectivity for CO2 in the presence of gaseous mixtures represents a major challenge if these systems are to find practical applications under dynamic conditions.”
The new research, kick-started by the two universities, provides a solution to both problems, with NOTT-202 found to be comprised of two interlocking frameworks. Using a number of different X-ray and magnification techniques, the scientists found that in between the two frameworks were left “nano-pores”, gaps ideally formed to capture and store CO2.
The findings not only suggest a promising future for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) market, but could also pave the way for a broader range of absorbent materials, each used to capture specific gases during different processes and environments.