Scientists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have created a new powder that can capture carbon dioxide, and it could be a new tool in the fight against climate change. The powder can filter and remove CO2 at power plants and factories powered by fossil fuels before it is released into the atmosphere, and it is more efficient than conventional methods.

Chemical engineering professor Zhongwei Chen created the powder in his lab as a new way to manipulate the size and concentration of carbon pores, and he says the process could have multiple uses, including water filtration and energy storage.

“This will be more and more important in the future,” said Chen, “We have to find ways to deal with all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels.”

When CO2 molecules come in contact with the surface of carbon, it sticks to it. This process is called adsorption, and since carbon is is abundant, cheap, and environmentally friendly, it is perfect for CO2 capture.

Chen and other scientists at the University of Waterloo collaborated with colleagues at different universities in China, and their goal was to improve adsorption performance through manipulation of the size and concentration of pores in carbon materials.

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They ended up developing a technique that uses salt and heat to extract a black carbon powder from plant matter. The powder is made up of carbon spheres that have numerous pores that have a diameter of less than one-millionth of a meter.

“The porosity of this material is extremely high,” said Chen. “And because of their size, these pores can capture CO2 very efficiently. The performance is almost doubled.”

Once the powder is saturated with carbon dioxide at large sources like fossil fuel power plants, it can be transported, stored, and buried in underground geological formations to prevent the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Via Science Daily

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