Researchers create a more efficient carbon capture system

Isbel Lázaro.

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Inspenet, September 4, 2023.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a carbon capture system using an electrochemical cell capable of trapping and releasing CO 2 efficiently.

This device operates at room temperature and consumes less energy compared to traditional amine-based carbon capture systems , as detailed in an article published in the journal ACS Central Science.

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Carbon capture is a promising technique to combat climate change, since it allows carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) to be trapped before it is released into the atmosphere. However, the conventional process requires a significant amount of energy and equipment.

Many industries are opting for electrification as a strategy to reduce emissions, although this solution is not applicable in all sectors.

Excess carbon dioxide can be captured using capture technologies that generally rely on amines to remove the pollutant through chemical reactions. However, this process also demands a considerable amount of energy, heat and industrial equipment, sometimes resulting in increased consumption of fossil fuels.

Creation of the carbon capture system

The scientists, including Fang-Yu Kuo, Sung Eun Jerng and Betar Gallant, aimed to develop an electrochemical cell that could capture and release CO 2 simply and reversibly, with minimal power consumption, using renewable energy sources.

First, the team created a cell that could trap and release carbon by “balancing” positively charged cations through a solution of amine dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide.

During cell discharge, a strong Lewis cation interacted with carbamic acid, releasing CO 2 and forming amine carbamate. Then, in the reverse process during cell charging, the cation disappeared, allowing the cell to capture CO 2 and reform carbamic acid.

Likewise, the scientists managed to improve the ionic oscillation technique by using a combination of potassium and zinc ions. In a prototype cell, they used these two types of ions as essential components of the cell’s cathode and anode. Such a cell requires a lower amount of power compared to those that rely on heat and demonstrated competitive results in early tests.

In addition to this, they put the device through long-term stability tests and found that it retained approximately 95% of its original capacity after being subjected to several charge and discharge cycles, supporting the viability of the system.

The researchers conclude that this work demonstrates that a feasible electrochemical option exists, which could contribute to making continuous CO 2 capture and release technologies more applicable in industrial settings.

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