New membrane captures 90% of CO2

The DOE has approved a field test for a new CO2 capture membrane. The new technology has successfully captured 90% of CO2 from flue gas in studies, so has been approved to advance to larger scale field studies.

In an $18.75 million project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Membrane Technology and Research Inc. (MTR) and its partners tested the Polaris™ membrane system, which uses a CO2-selective polymeric membrane (micro-porous films which act as semi-permanent barriers to separate two different mediums) material and module to capture CO2 from a plant’s flue gas. Post-combustion separation and capture of CO2 is challenging due to the low pressure and diluted concentration of CO2 in the waste stream; trace impurities in the flue gas that affect removal processes; and the amount of energy required for CO2 capture and compression.

Because the Polaris membranes are 10 times more permeable to CO2 than conventional materials (reducing the membrane area required), and use a slipstream of combustion air as a sweep gas, the system has great potential for reduced energy requirements, reasonable capture costs and greater efficiencies for post-combustion capture, all important factors for retrofitting existing coal-based plants.

Read the full DOE press release on the DOE website.

In their other work, DOE and partners are developing other novel membranes to capture CO2 from flue gas. An Ohio State research project has developed a “game-changing” CO2 capture membrane. This hybrid membrane blends the cost-effective nature of polymer membranes, while matching the performance of inorganic membranes. The membrane was developed as part of the DOE program to find affordable and effective means of separating CO2 from flue gas streams to limit emissions, to make use of CO2 as a valuable commodity, and position the U.S. as a “leader in the global clean energy race.”

The breakthrough technology has vast commercial potential for use at coal-fired power plants with carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), a key element in national efforts to mitigate climate change. […]

Ohio State’s new hybrid membrane consists of a thin, inorganic “zeolite Y” layer sandwiched between an inorganic intermediate and a polymer cover. These three layers sit atop a polymer support, which in turn rests on a woven backing. According to NETL project manager José Figueroa, “Combining inorganic and organic membrane materials in a hybrid configuration is a breakthrough that could potentially lower costs associated with clean coal technologies.”

Ohio State researchers realized a first prototype by combining new nanotechnology characterization and fabrication methods with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. In the laboratory, they were able to slash the zeolite Y growth rate from 8 hours to less than 15 minutes and reduce ceramic processing time from 43 hours to 20 minutes, resulting in inorganic/organic membrane development within one hour. They have also achieved adhesion of the inorganic intermediate layer onto a polymer support.

04. December 2012 by Jason Hayes
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