Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy also known as ARPA-E to pursue two different, but related, approaches for removing carbon dioxide from the flue gases of coal-burning power plants.
Power plants produce approximately one-third of all carbon dioxide emitted in the United States each year. The researchers will attempt to use the unique high-density properties of hollow fibers to develop cost-effective techniques for removing large volumes of the greenhouse gas from the emissions.
In one project, awarded directly to Georgia Tech, researchers are developing hollow-fiber composite membranes that will use nanoporous metal-organic framework materials to separate carbon dioxide from the flue gases. In the other project, Georgia Tech researchers are assisting colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in developing hollow-fiber sorbents that will soak up carbon dioxide like a sponge then release it when heated.
Both will take advantage of the very high surface-to-volume properties of hollow fibers spun from polymers. For the membrane project, researchers envision providing a million square meters of membrane area within a moderately-sized building using the compact footprint allowed by the fibers.
"The challenge with this is to have a technology that not only physically works, but that can be built on a large scale and operated inexpensively," said David Sholl, who leads the membrane project as a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. "If we are successful, this technology could have a very significant impact on trying to reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of coal."
Capturing carbon dioxide emissions at power plants makes sense because the emissions are concentrated there, Sholl says. But current technology, which involves bubbling stack gases through an aqueous solution and then
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Georgia Institute of Technology Research News