A new study shows that methods of sucking up atmospheric air and filtering out the CO2 can be improved by adding copper to the filter material, potentially opening up the technology to dozens more uses that could produce a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change.
The addition of copper also converts the captured CO2 to a harmless baking soda that could be stored in the oceans, or turned into a saleable product.
Some scientists say the only way to limit the warming of the Earth to less than 1.5°C over this century is if humanity starts to extract some of the CO2 they’ve added to the atmosphere through carbon capture methods.
These machines come in two forms: one that uses large fans to pull regular air from the environment, filter out the CO2, and then store that underground or produce other chemical products, and a second that does the work directly at the exhaust point of large factories, power plants, or natural gas wells.
The former method deals with CO2 at very few parts per million, while the latter does so at much higher concentrations, but with placement limited to industrial facilities.
Now, a study published in Science Advances shows that when copper is added to the ammine-based filter devices on the large ambient carbon-capture machines, they filter out CO2 three times as much, reducing cost and improving efficiency.
“To my knowledge, there is no absorbing material which even at 100,000 ppm, shows the capacity we get it in direct air capture of 400 ppm,” said lead author Professor Arup Sengupta from Lehigh University in the US.
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