The solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants may be sitting in your cupboard. Scientists at GE Global Research found that aminosilicones–a group of materials found in household products like hair conditioners, fabric softeners and plastics–could trap CO2 emissions. Researchers hope that once fully developed, the materials could be used as part of a CO2 absorber system for flue gases emitted by coal-fired power plants.
The group, led by Robert Perry, reported its findings at the recent American Chemical Society meeting. It is the first report to study how aminosilicones could be used in carbon capture. In lab tests, scientists found that the material has the potential to remove about 90 percent of the CO2 emitted by flue gases. Plus, using aminosilicones may be less expensive and more efficient than current carbon-reduction methods.
Coal-fired power plants are some of the worst emitters out there, so they could certainly use some cleaning up. America’s 8,000 coal-fired power plants produce 2.8 billion tons of CO2 annually. Worldwide, about 50,000 coal-fired plants exist.
Scientists still have some more testing to do before the materials can be implemented into larger absorber systems, but one thing is clear: We’ve never had so much respect for our hair conditioner.