(McNeil et al., Energy & Environmental Science, 2020)

A New Type Of Membrane Which Separates CO2 From Other Gases

Researchers have developed a new self-assembling silver membrane that can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before they can spread in the atmosphere.

Researchers used a never before attempted technique and seeded their gas separation membrane with only a tiny deposit of the valuable metal, leveraging the flow of CO2 itself to grow tiny silver crystals or dendrites on the membrane.

These dendrites will increase the efficiency of the structure, allowing for large amounts of CO2 and oxygen to flow through without having to use as much of the precious metal as in previous methods.

We didn’t build the entire membrane from silver,explains carbon capture engineer Greg Mutch from Newcastle University in the UK.

Instead, we added a small amount of silver and grew it within the membrane, adding the functionality we desired.

The process comes under something called carbon capture and storage (CCS, aka carbon sequestration) which includes a vast range of approaches for filtering CO2 emissions, with the aim of preventing them from flowing into the atmosphere.

There are a lot of CCS ideas out there but the main factor which is holding back these ideas is the cost involved which is very high with most of them. Coming to silver, we know that silver is a precious element and it is costly but very less people know that it is very effective in CCS application.

Now silver is costly but Mutch’s team figured out a way of extracting the benefits silver in the CO2 separation process, while not actually needing a whole lot of the element itself and that might decrease the costs solving the main problem in CCS.

So, let us hope that this research comes into usage very soon thus reducing industrial CO2 emission as much as possible saving our nature.

Dendritic silver self-assembly in molten-carbonate membranes for efficient carbon dioxide capture. DOI: 10.1039/c9ee03497h

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