New system removes carbon dioxide from the air

New system developed by chemical engineersMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can provide a way to continuously remove carbon dioxide from a gas or air stream. The key component is an electrochemically supported membrane, the filtration function can be turned on or off without the use of moving parts and with relatively little energy.

The membranes themselves, made of anodizedaluminum oxide, have a honeycomb structure consisting of hexagonal holes. However, the passage of gas can be blocked by electrically covering the pores of the membrane with a thin layer of metal. This work is described in more detail in the journal Science Advances.

This "gas seal" can be used forcontinuous removal of carbon dioxide from industrial exhaust gases and air, the paper says. Scientists have presented a concept for a device to show this process in action.

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The device usesa carbon-absorbing redox material that is embedded between two switchable gas seal membranes. The sorbent and the gate membranes are in close contact with each other and are immersed in an organic electrolyte.

The two valve membranes can be opened or closed,by switching the polarity of the voltage between them, as a result of which zinc ions will move from one side to the other. Ions simultaneously block harmful substances, forming a metal film over it.

When the sorbent layer opens to the sidethe material readily absorbs carbon dioxide until it reaches its capacity. The voltage can then be turned off to shut off the supply side and open the other side, where a concentrated stream of almost pure carbon dioxide is released.

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