Park, lead author of the article, initially engineered the membrane while at Hanyang University in Korea. As a research assistant in the lab of Professor Young Moo Lee, Park investigated whether plastics made of rings of carbon and certain other elements could work well at separating carbon dioxide out of gas wastes produced by power plants. Separating the greenhouse gas from other gases at power plants must occur at high temperatures, which usually destroy plastic membranes.
Lee and Park not only found that the TR plastic could handle temperatures above 600 degrees Fahrenheit, but that the heat transformed the material into the better performing membrane described in Science. That membrane breaks a performance barrier thought to affect all plastic membranes.
I didnt expect that the TR plastic would work better than any other plastic membranes because thermally stable plastics usually have very low gas transport rates through them, Park said. Everyone had thought the performance barrier for plastic membranes could not be surpassed.
Park joined Freemans laboratory in Austin because of the professors expertise in evaluating membranes. Park then verified that the TR plastic separated carbon dioxide and natural gas well. Natural gas that is transported in pipelines can only contain 2 percent carbon dioxide, yet often comes out of the ground with higher levels of the gas, requiring this separation step.
This membrane has enormous potential to transform natural gas processing plants, Freeman said, including offshore platforms, which are especially crunched for space.
To better understand how the plastic works, Dr. Anita Hill and her group at Australias national science agency analyzed the material using positron annihilation lifetime spectroscop
|Contact: Barbra Rodriguez|
University of Texas at Austin