Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) before it reaches the atmosphere is one of the most effective strategies to curb global warming. And the most direct way to start putting it into practice is to incentivize the biggest CO2 emitters to adopt a carbon capture technology. However, the high cost of commercially available CO2 capture technologies has been an obstacle to the widespread use of such technologies.
Scientists at the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) believe that methanol may provide that incentive. Methanol is one of the most abundantly produced chemicals in industry, having many uses: as a fuel, a solvent, and an important ingredient in plastics, paints, and building materials. Converting CO2 into useful substances like methanol offers companies a cost-effective way to capture and reuse their carbon dioxide.
PNNL chemist David Heldebrant’s team has reached a new milestone in their efforts to make carbon capture more affordable and more widespread. These scientists have created a new system that effectively captures CO2 and converts it into methanol or some other substance of commercial interest. This system is the least expensive of all those created to date.
The new system is designed to be easily adapted to coal, gas or biomass power plants, as well as industrial facilities dedicated to making cement or steel, which also generate large amounts of CO2.
Using a capture solvent developed by PNNL, the system captures CO2 molecules before they enter the atmosphere and converts them into useful and easily marketable substances.
David Heldebrant (pictured) and his colleagues have designed several solvents capable of effectively capturing carbon dioxide molecules before they are released into the atmosphere. (Photo: Andrea Starr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
Heldebrant and his colleagues discuss the technical details of their system in the Journal of Cleaner Production, under the title “Energy-effective and low-cost carbon capture from point-sources enabled by water-lean solvents.” (Fountain: NCYT by Amazings)