Pitt engineers find affordable materials for CO2 extraction for coal-fired power plants News


The research team – led by Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor for the chemical and petroleum industry, in collaboration with co-researcher Jan Steckl, research scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the US Department of Energy and AECOM from Pittsburgh, published their findings at the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal of Energy & Environmental Science: "High performance computing forecast for carbon capture costs with mixed membrane membranes".

"Polymer membranes have been used for decades to filter and purify materials, but they are limited in their use for CCS," stressed Dr. Wilmer, who runs a laboratory for hypothetical materials at Swanson School.

"Mixed matrix membranes, which are polymeric membranes with small, inorganic particles dispersed in the material, show extreme prospects due to their separation and permeability properties. However, the number of potential polymers and inorganic particles is important, so finding the best combination for carbon capture can be daunting. "


According to dr. Wilmer's researchers built on extensive research in the framework of Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOF), which are highly porous crystalline materials that arise from the self-organization of inorganic metal with organic linkers. These MOFs, which can store a larger amount of gases than traditional tanks, are very versatile and can be made from various materials and custom made with special properties.

Dr. Wilmer and his team found more than a million potential mixed membranes. They then compared the predicted gas permeation of each material with the published data and evaluated them on the basis of a three-stage acquisition process. Variables, such as flow velocity, capture fraction, pressure and temperature conditions, have been optimized as a function of the properties of membranes with the aim of determining specific mixed membrane membranes that would allow affordable carbon capture costs.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, although only coal-fired power plants currently account for only 30% of the national energy portfolio, in 2017, the largest share of 1,207 million tonnes of CO2, or 69% of the total CO emission in the US2 of the entire electricity sector of the USA.

"Our computer modeling of hypothetical and real MOFs has led to a new database with more than a million mixed membrane membranes with an appropriate CO t2 capture capacity and related costs, "said Dr. Wilmer.

"Further techno-economic analyzes were made possible by 1,153 mixed membranes with removed carbon capture costs of less than US $ 50 per tonne. Thus, there is a potential for creating cost-effective and efficient CO resources2 the capture of coal-fired power plants around the world and the effective rescue of an important CO source produced by fossil fuels2 in the atmosphere. "


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