Surface structure

A research programme has been launched to chemically alter the surfaces of materials to enhance their ability to adsorb carbon dioxide.


A research programme has been launched to chemically alter the surfaces of materials to enhance their ability to adsorb CO2.

The £1.6m project, led by Nottingham University, has received funds from E.ON and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which are working together to promote new carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to reduce emissions from fossil-fuel power stations.

The Nottingham-led research project may result in materials that will be cheaper and less energy consuming than chemical adsorption using amine solvents in post-combustion capture systems.

The leader of the programme, Trevor Drage, a chemical engineer from Nottingham, said his research team will look at different porous adsorbent materials, including microporous polymers, hydrotalcites and hybrid materials. He added that these will be developed by Nottingham and its academic partners at the universities of Liverpool and Birmingham and University College London. 

Drage said that the challenge will be to develop materials that have a high adsorption capacity and the ability to survive in the flue gas environment at elevated temperatures between 40°C and 75°C.

‘The next challenge will be designing processes for the cyclic operation of the capture plant,’ he said, ‘for example, the regeneration of the solids and how they can efficiently be moved around. Also, we will need to learn how to efficiently integrate the materials into the power plant.’

Drage said that testing will begin in the laboratory with multi-gram simulated flue gas. However, the group is looking for an opportunity to use real flue gas.

The project is expected to yield results in four years. The project leader said that, by then, his group hopes to have viable materials and processes for solid adsorbent materials that can be scaled up and demonstrated for use in carbon capture.

Siobhan Wagner