New material makes carbon dioxide capture more efficient

Researchers in Korea claim to have developed a new solid material that could help cut the costs of carbon capture.

The scientists from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) say their new substance is the world’s most efficient at capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from a mixture of gases and is much cheaper to produce than existing dry absorbents.

They also claim the material, known as Azo-COP, is much more stable in the extremely hot and humid conditions in which the carbon capture process takes place and so maintains its capture efficiency.

‘When Azo-COP is used for separation of CO2 and N2 [nitrogen], the capturing efficiency has increased by hundred times,’ according to a statement from professors Ali Coskun and Yousung Jung, who developed the material.

‘This substance does not need any catalysts and has great chemical characteristics like water stability and structure stability so is expected to be used in various fields including carbon dioxide capturing,’

The most common substances used for carbon capture are liquid solvents such as amines, but researchers are also exploring the use of solid absorbents such as metal-organic frameworks (MOF) or zeolite.

KAIST’s new material combines simple organic molecules with nitrogen to create a porous polymer, manufactured using common synthesis methods. Its impurities are removed using cheap solvents like water and acetone instead of expensive catalysts, helping to lower the cost of production.

The scientists also said the cost of removing the CO2 from the material was lower because the Azo-COP holds onto the gas using weak attraction force rather than chemical attraction.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.