Environment

Zeolite foam shows promise for use in better carbon-capture filters

Zeolite foam shows promise for...
A piece of the lightweight material, resting on a flower – it is claimed to be more eco-friendly and effective than current carbon-capture technologies, such as amine compounds suspended in liquid solutions
A piece of the lightweight material, resting on a flower – it is claimed to be more eco-friendly and effective than current carbon-capture technologies, such as amine compounds suspended in liquid solutions
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Chalmers PhD student Walter Rosas Arbelaez (left) and Prof. Anders Palmqvist, with samples of the foam
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Chalmers PhD student Walter Rosas Arbelaez (left) and Prof. Anders Palmqvist, with samples of the foam
A piece of the lightweight material, resting on a flower – it is claimed to be more eco-friendly and effective than current carbon-capture technologies, such as amine compounds suspended in liquid solutions
2/2
A piece of the lightweight material, resting on a flower – it is claimed to be more eco-friendly and effective than current carbon-capture technologies, such as amine compounds suspended in liquid solutions

In order to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harvest useful byproducts, scientists are increasingly investigating methods of capturing the carbon dioxide that's emitted by industrial smokestacks. A new filtration material may make doing so easier and more efficient than ever before.

Developed via a partnership between Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University, the solid foam-style substance consists of tiny zeolite particles combined with gelatine and cellulose.

Zeolites are a type of aluminosilicate mineral, which are in turn silicates wherein aluminum replaces some of the silicon. Because zeolites are very porous, they're quite good at adsorbing carbon dioxide. That said, traditionally-produced and -implemented zeolite particles have reportedly proven difficult to work with, limiting their usability.

The new foam is claimed to get around this problem, first by utilizing particles that are much smaller than usual, thus increasing the total zeolite surface area. Secondly, because the particles are suspended three-dimensionally within a foam matrix, they're more accessible to CO2 that is passing through smokestack filters made out of that open, porous foam.

Chalmers PhD student Walter Rosas Arbelaez (left) and Prof. Anders Palmqvist, with samples of the foam
Chalmers PhD student Walter Rosas Arbelaez (left) and Prof. Anders Palmqvist, with samples of the foam

Up to 90 percent zeolites by weight, the material is not only said to be highly effective at adsorbing CO2, but it's also composed of what are described as environmentally-friendly materials. Additionally, it's reportedly lightweight, inexpensive, durable, and can be reused many times after the captured CO2 has been removed for conversion into products such as calcium carbonate.

"What surprised us most was that it was possible to fill the foam with such a high proportion of zeolites," says Chalmers PhD student Walter Rosas Arbelaez. "We see our results as a very interesting piece of the puzzle in the search for a solution to the complex challenge of being able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere quickly enough to meet climate goals."

A paper on the study, which was led by Chalmers' Prof. Anders Palmqvist, was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

7 comments
benito
Zeolites are naturally occurring minerals which are similar in fiber/particle size and chemical composition to ASBESTOS. Whether in water, wind or by ingestion they have caused lung cancer and mesothelioma clusters in Turkey, China Lake CA etc. Putting them in smokestacks may spread them to nearby populations. Handling zeolites requires great care. Good luck with that.
CarolynFarstrider
I can't see how this solution to the climate emergency, requiring a lot of energy to manage (in total) is better than trying to reduce the CO2 emissions in the first place. Burn less fossil fuel - invest resources and research effort in shifting away from the processes that use fossil fuels, to systems that can be run on renewables. Yes, we do need to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere, as well as reducing our baseline emissions urgently, but CaCO3 is not a valuable end product, and is readily obtainable from other sources. Help us to understand why this development could actually lead to an overall improvement.
Robert in Vancouver
Climate emergency? I've lived a few metres from the Pacific Ocean for 62 years and can see the high and low tide marks on the rocks and piers haven't changed. Period. If we had global warming and ice melting as reported in the media over the years, the tide marks would have changed by now. Climate emergency is just a new excuse to raise taxes.
Sibyl
Hundreds of millions of families are still cooking their meals over dung fires, farmers are burning down forest to clear land and California (the state with the most oppressive environmental laws) is on fire every year. These seem like more obvious targets for CO2 reduction than shutting off my electricity.
Douglas Rogers
Good to know! I spent 18 years riding my bike through dust storms in Ridgecrest CA!
TruthIsHard
Why do we need to capture CO2 when it is the lowest level in about 280,000 years?? https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6_cbyI-2svo/V1elQCR76vI/AAAAAAAAT60/SusbJI-BnB0ASM8x2xGAsPIpXJHMatW0gCLcB/s1600/Screenshot%2B2016-06-08%2B14.54.35.png
TruthIsHard
Here is the web site page that the graph came from. I for got to add it. http://theclimatescepticsparty.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-positive-impact-of-human-co2.html