Carbon emission reduction

A new polymer developed at Manchester University, which has a structure that resembles crispy noodles, could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


A new polymer developed at Manchester University, which has a structure that resembles crispy noodles, could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help drive the next generation of hydrogen cars.


Dr Peter Budd, a materials chemist working in the Organic Materials Innovation Centre (OMIC) at Manchester University, has won £150,000 worth of new funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to explore the potential uses of composite membranes made from the ‘polymer of intrinsic microporosity’, or PIM, and a synthetic catalyst.


The 18 month study will look at the feasibility of using catalytic membrane systems to capture and recover carbon dioxide.


The project expands on work by Dr Budd, Prof Neil McKeown at Cardiff University and David Book at Birmingham University which is aiming to use PIMs to store large amounts of hydrogen.


Polymers have not previously been investigated as materials for the storage of hydrogen because most polymers are not microporous. But the polymers developed by Dr Budd and his colleagues do possess significant microporosity – and preliminary hydrogen adsorption results are encouraging, with significant quantities adsorbed.


‘The PIM acts a bit like a sponge when hydrogen is around. It’s made up of long molecules that can trap hydrogen between them, providing a way of supplying hydrogen on demand,’ Dr Budd said.


At the moment, the polymer Dr Budd and collaborators at Birmingham and Cardiff University have developed can store about three per cent of its weight as hydrogen, but they hope to double this in the future.


‘If we could get that figure up to six per cent hydrogen, that may be enough for a car to go around 300 miles without a refill,’ said Dr Budd.