"What is unique about this model is that, for the first time, we are able to guide the direction for materials research and say, 'here are the properties we want, even if we don't know what the ultimate material will look like,'" said Abhoyjit Bhown, a co-author of the study and a technical executive at EPRI, which conducts research and development for the electric power industry and the public. "Before, people were trying to figure out what materials they should shoot for, and that question was unanswered until now."
Fossil fuel-burning power plants, in particular coal-burning units, are a major source of the carbon dioxide that is rapidly warming the planet and altering the climate in ways that could impact crops and water supplies, raise sea level and lead to weather extremes. Even with the move toward alternative, sustainable and low-carbon sources of energy, ranging from solar and wind to hydrothermal, coal- and natural gas-burning power plants are being built at an increasing rate around the world. At some point, Smit said, carbon capture will be the only way to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to stave off the worst consequences of climate change.
Although no commercial power plants currently capture carbon dioxide on a large scale, a few small-scale and pilot plants do, using today's best technology: funneling emissions through a bath of nitrogen-based amines, which grab carbon dioxide from the flue gases. The amines are then boiled to release the CO2. Additional energy is required to compress the carbon dioxide so that it can be pumped underground.
The energy needed for this process decr
|Contact: Robert Sanders|
University of California - Berkeley