New material could make carbon capture more efficient

Researchers at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology have discovered a more efficient, less expensive and reusable material for CO<sub>2</sub> capture and separation.

The material, called SIFSIX-1-Cu, is a crystal whose atoms form a 3D lattice with holes that snare molecules of CO2 but allow other molecules in air to pass. SIFSIX-1-Cu is an adaptation of a material created more than 15 years ago and is named after the chemical component that leads to the special properties; its chemical name is hexafluorosilicate. SIFSIX materials are built with a mix of inorganic and organic chemical building blocks from a class of materials known as metal organic materials. One of the characteristics of the metal organic framework material that boosts its chances of real world application is its effectiveness in the presence of water vapour. According to the researchers the material has three significant applications: carbon capture for coal burning energy plants, the purification of methane in natural gas wells, and the advancement of clean coal technology. The researchers claim that a staggering 20 to 30% of the power output of clean coal plants can be consumed by the cleaning process. It is hoped the material has the potential to improve the efficiency of the cleaning process and allow more power to be put into the grid. "I hate to use the word 'unprecedented' but we have something unprecedented," said Professor Mike Zaworotko, of the University of South Florida. "We sort of hit a sweet spot in terms of properties." The team is now hoping to collaborate with engineers to determine how the material can be manufactured and implemented for real world uses.