Scientists have created a novel powder that can capture carbon dioxide emissions from factories and power plants.
The powder, created by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada, can filter and remove CO2 at facilities powered by fossil fuels before it is released into the atmosphere and is twice as efficient as conventional methods.
The process to manipulate the size and concentration of pores could also be used to produce optimised carbon powders for applications including water filtration and energy storage, according to the research published in the journal Carbon.
"This will be more and more important in the future. We have to find ways to deal with all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels," said Zhongwei Chen, a professor at Waterloo.
CO2 molecules stick to the surface of carbon when they come in contact with it, a process known as adsorption. Since it is abundant, inexpensive and environmentally friendly, that makes carbon an excellent material for CO2 capture.
The researchers set out to improve adsorption performance by manipulating the size and concentration of pores in carbon materials.
The technique they developed uses heat and salt to extract a black carbon powder from plant matter. Carbon spheres that make up the powder have many, many pores and the vast majority of them are less than one-millionth of a metre in diameter.
Once saturated with carbon dioxide at large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants, the powder would be transported to storage sites and buried in underground geological formations to prevent CO2 release into the atmosphere.
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