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back to article Soak up CO2 with sponges, says CSIRO

Australian science outfit the CSIRO is claiming a win, demonstrating a material it says offers a new approach to carbon capture: a sponge. The idea of the “sponge” – really a material called a metal-organic framework – is very straightforward. It absorbs gases at the point of release, such as capturing flue gases in a power …

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Anonymous Coward

Oh goody

We can keep using coal.

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Re: Oh goody

mutatedwombat, you forgot to use an icon: either Joke Alert or Troll, your choice.

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Boffin

Re: Oh goody

If you can guarantee to capture and sensibly handle all of the products from burning coal, then what's the problem?

Of course, this is only a solution for the carbon dioxide produced. Some other issues are:

micro-particulates (i.e. soot)

sulphur oxides (which cause acid rain and respiratory problems)

nitrogen oxides and ozone (which cause photochemical smog)

mercury vapour (which is toxic)

fly ash (which is caustic and produced in large quantities)

radioactive emissions (large coal-fired power stations release more radioactivity in their flue gases, from trace elements in the coal than nuclear power stations do in their cooling water)

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Where are we going to store it?

It's all very well being able to capture it, move it somewhere else, and release it easily... but where are we going to store it in a way that it won't come back?

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Pirate

Re: Where are we going to store it?

If I got my sums right, it'll turn to liquid and sink at about 1000ft down in cold ocean, so the Marianas trench would soak up a lot of it. Might not do the wildlife much good before it gets subducted though...

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

If I remember liquid CO2 is less dense then water so it will not stay down there and also dissolves in water. Solid CO2 or Dry Ice will sink but I don't think you will find any place colder then -78C to dump it.

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Meh

Re: Where are we going to store it?

There are some uses for CO2 that could soak up some of it, but generally these demand a pure CO2 stream, so it is useful as a step in the recovery/re-use process. The research looks nice, but I would worry about the resilience of the MOFs, especially at the elevated temperatures likely to be used in gas flue streams. (Temperatures up to 30 C reported in the paper) and likelihood of poisoning in real gases.

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Pint

Re: Where are we going to store it?

Why not depost it somewhere with lots of greenery... I mean plants and trees do love CO2... they get more 'food', we get more air to breathe.

That, or just find a way of using CO2 as a reliable power source. Given how much we generate, it could provide a tasty amount of juice.

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density of liquid CO2

I checked the some online data- its about 77% the density of water at room temperature and deep ocean pressures

So it won't sink

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Re: density of liquid CO2

They need to work on some kind of carbon transference, seperating the C from the O2, releasing the O2, and converting the C into something solid like... I was never good at these chemical formulas. Something primarily carbon which is solid and useful... Graphene? Iuno.

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Re: density of liquid CO2

"and converting the C into something solid like"

and converting the C into something solid like CARBON

In any case the problem is, even in theory, it needs energy, lots and lots of it, indeed somewhat more energy than was obtained by burning the carbon in the first place.

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

"just find a way of using CO2 as a reliable power source"

Is that a joke - in which case I'll let you off otherwise please explain the magic.

Carbon burning to CO2 gives off ~400 kJ/mol or ~ 34MJ/kg - there's no other oxidation state to go to - any other chemical change NEEDS energy so it's hardly likely to be a useful power source

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

"There are some uses for CO2 that could soak up some of it"

AFAIK there's no use for CO2 on any significant scale that doesn't return it to the atmosphere eventually

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

From Wikipedia: Precursor to chemicals

In the chemical industry, carbon dioxide is mainly consumed as an ingredient in the production of urea and methanol. Metal carbonates and bicarbonates, as well as some carboxylic acids derivatives (e.g., sodium salicylate) are prepared from CO2.

There is also some work looking to make green polycarbonate plastics from CO2, though it is early stage and unlikely to make a significant dent. The main (hopeful) future use for CO2 is to use it as a feedstock to make fuel, which is about the only chemical we need at scale to make use of the amount of CO2. This does of course take energy, but if it can be supplied from a renewable source, future CO2 release from fossil fuels would be reduced or eliminated. Methanol can be made from CO2 for example, and there is also the dry methane reforming reaction to make syngas, which can then be used to make liquid fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch process. This is arguably nicer than steam reforming, but people are unlikely to stop that, since the hydrogen it produces is much more valuable. There may be a role for small installations, but it often makes more economic sense to flare methane than transport it to market.

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

proto-robbie; you don't got your sums right.

However, CO2 frozen gas hydrate might be stable under those conditions; this is a physical, rather than chemical reaction, and requires only water and cold to form a solid that is stable under pressure at low temperatures. The problem comes if the rpessure is reduced, or the temperature rises to the point where the hydrate breaks down.

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Better prevent than cure

" This does of course take energy, but if it can be supplied from a renewable source, future CO2 release from fossil fuels would be reduced or eliminated. "

Is that really? Suppose we burn 1 ton of carbon in a power plant. As said by other, this releases about 34 MJ/kg, so in total we have almost 10MWh at the input side. Nice, however this power plant operates at 45% efficiency, so it only pumps 4,5 MWh in the grid. To reverse this reaction, and split the C off the O2, will require more energy than was produced by burning - say 12MWh. Of course, that could be provided by a renewable energy source. But if we have a renewable energy source producing 12MWh - why burn the carbon in the first place? Just use this renewable source to pump its 12MWh in the grid!

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Re: Where are we going to store it?

My oops - I read the solid CO2 density figure rather than the liquid one. Soda water, anyone?

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Go

Awesome! This is the kind of science we should be spending money on, not that solar/wind bollocks that will never provide enough power to be viable, science that will provide clean-ish energy!

The only reason I can see to be spending money on "green" (synonymous with useless) energy instead of things like nuclear and technology like this is the hippys without any understanding of technology have too much lobbying power. They don't want clean and efficient energy, they want us all living a "natural" (aka hellish) existence with little to no power usage.

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Anonymous Coward

If you want to indulge yourself with fact-free, off-topic, ad holmium attacks, at least learn to spell: it's "hippies".

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Headmaster

Leave off the Holmium-

It's a wonder element and our only hope for the future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: awesome?

Seriously? You think that cleaning up the mess is better than not making the mess in the first place?

/despairs

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WTF?

Icon says it all

...and when we run out of things to burn?

If we could only harness hyperbole and ignorance as a power source...

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Ad Holmium Attack

Yeah, what have those dirty lanthanides ever done for us!

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Pint

Ironically...

This environment saving chemical (azobenzene) is apparently carcinogenic and currently used as a pesticide:

http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC36315

I wonder if this catches on if we'll have to evolve a separate azobenzene trapping/disposal programme.

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Re: Ironically...

I think you are confusing a specific chemical with the azobenzene class. As far as I can see a particular azobenzene is bonded to this large-surface area material.

The analogy would be sodium cyanide is very toxic but the cyanide group (a nitrile actually) can be part of an organic molecule without any sig. toxic effects. In fact the breast-cancer treatment Arimidex contains 2 nitriles.

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What is the surface area of a football pitch?

...taking into acccount all the blades of grass growning on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Cynical?

The cynic in me sees not a method of removing CO2, but a new way to generate those bloody useless Carbon credits that allow big polluters to keep on pumping out noxious fumes.

Disclaimer - I am not a greenie, but I do think we're doing a fantastic job of crapping in the only nest we've got.

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Somebody takes it...

and hopefully makes some kind of liquid fuel from it i can stick in my car, preferable petrol, until i am forced to get a diesel version of the car i want.

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Re: Somebody takes it...

" Somebody takes it...

and hopefully makes some kind of liquid fuel from it"

As mentioned previously.

Carbon burning to CO2 gives off ~400 kJ/mol or ~ 34MJ/kg - there's no other oxidation state to go to - any other chemical change NEEDS energy so it's hardly likely to be a useful power source. Maybe you'd take a hit, use energy to make a new liquid fuel, but it's now just an energy carrier like batteries or hydrogen.

And then it still ends up back in the atmosphere !

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Pint

Astonishing materials

Very tailorable in all sorts of ways.

Now if you could add water to the foam, expose it to sunlight and get say Ethanol out you'd have

An every lasting beer machine (or at least the core of one).

And I'll drink to that.

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Zeolite

Zeolites (aluminosilicate minerals, some are artificial) are very good at adsorbing specific fluids to their surfaces, whilst letting other fluids pass.

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Plants need CO2

But Plants need CO2 also. You can not take away that.

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Send it somewhere sunny

Why not send the resulting fluids somewhere where the sun always shines, such as Austrailia (lots of useless desert there) or the Sahara.

A few thounds square miles of Solar panels and you could probably generate enough energy to seperate the C from the O2.

Actually why not ship loads of water out there and generate hydrogen for fuel?

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What is needed is a fuel ...

... that is really energy dense, and does not produce much CO2 when 'burnt'. We all ready have such a wonder-fuel, and we know how to use it. It's called URANIUM.

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CCS is dangerous fantasy

CCS is such a bad idea. Eventually, no matter what we do with it, it will burp it's way out and then we're stuffed.

And in the meantime it diverts resources from ACTUAL solutions. The future is carbon-neutral power generation, that's just all there is to it.

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Weren't there some other boffins who recently discovered a process for turning carbon + energy into biofuel? I'm sure el Reg had a recent article on it. If so, someone needs to put these two groups together.

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Anonymous Coward

"Weren't there some other boffins who recently discovered a process for turning carbon + energy into biofuel?"

Weren't there some other boffins who recently discovered a process for turning carbon DIOXIDE + energy into fuel? Yes - now you just need the energy.

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"a process for turning carbon DIOXIDE + energy into fuel"

You mean photosynthesis? Basically, you're saying they discovered how to grow some trees for firewood?

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Stop

How much CO2 does it take to manufacture the wonder sponge in the first place?

It may have to absorb a lot of CO2 before it is actually carbon neutral.

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Boffin

Uh, how much energy is required to produce the stuff?

The MOF is produced using the massive energy of a beam line at the Australian Synchrotron?

That is a so-geeky place to visit (we live close by and the family loves Open Days), BUT how much energy is required in the first place to make this absorbent material?

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Re: Uh, how much energy is required to produce the stuff?

"The MOF is produced using the massive energy of a beam line at the Australian Synchrotron?"

Er, no. The beam-line was used to analyse the structure during the development.

"the development of the materials used the powder diffraction beamline"

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Anonymous Coward

Adsorbing or absorbing?

The process you are talking about here is adsorbtion - the second substance is retained without any chemical change.

This is a distinct process from absorption. Richard unfortunately has used the incorrect word, but the actual quote was correct.

HTH folks

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Tree are another excellent absorber of CO2, and as a bonus they also produce O2. Unfortunately, we need to chop them all down to make way for wind and solar farms.

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Happy

I knew it, Spongebob was going to save the planet.

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