Newer, easier way to capture carbon from the atmosphere

Science Daily reveals a simpler, cheaper way to get excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – by converting it to carbon crystals:

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found a simple, reliable process to capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air, offering a new option for carbon capture and storage strategies to combat global warming.

Initially, the ORNL team was studying methods to remove environmental contaminants such as sulfate, chromate or phosphate from water. To remove those negatively charged ions, the researchers synthesized a simple compound known as guanidine designed to bind strongly to the contaminants and form insoluble crystals that are easily separated from water.

In the process, they discovered a method to capture and release carbon dioxide that requires minimal energy and chemical input. Their results are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Traditional direct air capture materials must be heated up to 900 degrees Celsius to release the gas — a process that often emits more carbon dioxide than initially removed. The ORNL-developed guanidine material offers a less energy-intensive alternative.

“Through our process, we were able to release the bound carbon dioxide by heating the crystals at 80-120 degrees Celsius, which is relatively mild when compared with current methods,” Custelcean said. After heating, the crystals reverted to the original guanidine material.

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