The new carbon capture technology, developed in Canada, could give the industry a boost by making sequestration cheaper and more efficient
Spotted: Researchers at the University of Alberta’s engineering department have developed a new carbon-capturing material that could pull carbon dioxide out of industrial emissions significantly more efficiently than existing processes. The material, named Calgary Framework-20 (CALF-20), belongs to a family of microporous solids called metal-organic frameworks.
The idea behind metal-organic frameworks has been around for decades. These materials consist of a combination of metals and organic molecules, called linkers, which work together to concentrate gases in a mixture.
A single gramme of CALF-20 has a surface area of more than 500 square metres. This means that the material can be packed in a column and fastened to the end of a smokestack, where it works like a catalytic converter.
Traditionally, metal-organic frameworks have had two significant drawbacks – they often don’t work in the presence of water or other impurities, and even tiny amounts of byproducts, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide, can ruin their carbon-capturing abilities.
CALF-20 overcomes the first fo these drawbacks, as it is able to handle water. This eliminates the need to dry the CO2 gas before filtering it – reducing energy usage.
The research team has also come up with a process that allows CALF-20 to work in the presence of emissions other than CO2. For example, where emissions are made up of nitrogen and CO2, the team explains on the University’s news website that, ‘the nitrogen comes out first while the CO2 is left behind, adhering to the material. To move the CO2 along so the material can be reused, either the pressure in the column is brought down and the concentrated CO2 is vacuumed out, or the system is heated up using waste heat or steam.’
In 2020, there were at least twenty-six commercial-scale carbon capture projects in operation around the world, with 34 more in development. At Springwise, we have covered a number of these projects, including a facility that uses captured carbon to produce fuel for vehicles and a process for turning captured carbon into stone.
Written By: Lisa Magloff