Carbon dioxide is both a culprit in global warming and also responsible for keeping the Earth warm enough to support life as we know it. It is odorless and colorless, often represented by a smokestack plume trailing into the sky, signifying pollution and greenhouse gases. That plume is actually water vapor, which together with carbon dioxide and nitrogen makes up the majority of the gas exhausted from power plants burning fossil fuels. But water vapor turns out to be an obstacle to removing carbon dioxide from power plant emissions. The work done at the ChemMatCARS beamline 15-ID-B,C,D at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source supports the effort to quantify the ability of these new materials to capture carbon dioxide even while in the presence of water.
From an engineering perspective, the metal-organic material for a post-combustion chamber must capture carbon dioxide efficiently, it must be reusable, and it must require less energy than existing solutions, which can require as much as 30% of the energy produced by the plant. In materials science terms, this means a high selectivity for carbon dioxide, just enough affinity for carbon dioxide that the gas adsorbs onto the material, but not so much the gas cannot be extracted then sequestered, and a large uptake of carbon dioxide per volume of the material. . ..