Researchers have discovered a new way to capture carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion sources using readily available and affordable chemicals. The team hopes the method can be used in industrial smokestacks, car exhaust pipes and other mobile sources of carbon dioxide.
The team, including lead author Dr. Haiyan Mao of the University of California, Berkeley, reports their process and materials in Science Advances. They used the polymer melamine, which is the main ingredient in Formica, a laminate composite commonly used in plastics, countertops and furniture.
When combined with commercially available chemicals diethylenetriamine and cyanuric acid and treated with formaldehyde, the team noticed nanoscale pores appearing in the melamine.
The resulting material can absorb nearly all of the carbon dioxide in the flue gas mixture in about three minutes. The system can operate at 40°C (104°F), but will not release carbon dioxide until heated to 80°C (176°F).
The research team is continuing to modify new materials and make the process more efficient. Their goal is to create an efficient, scalable and recyclable high-capacity carbon dioxide capture system. If they can do that, their approach could go a long way toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.