New carbon capture method is a “paradigm shift," say MIT engineers

The new method appears to be more efficient and cheaper than current carbon capture technologies.

New carbon capture method is a “paradigm shift," say MIT engineers
Credit: Sahag Voskian via Vimeo
  • Capturing and storing carbon before it enters the atmosphere is a promising technique that's already helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • However, current technologies are generally too expensive or inefficient to be used on a large-scale basis.
  • A new carbon capture method aims to change that by using electrochemical sheets to capture carbon from the air.


A new method of capturing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere represents a "paradigm shift" in the carbon capture industry, according to new research.

The new method involves passing air through a series of electrochemical plates that absorb carbon dioxide as the plates are being charged, and the plates then release carbon dioxide upon being discharged. Unlike most current carbon capture techniques, this method would be able to absorb carbon dioxide at almost any concentration level.

It would also likely be cheaper and more efficient than current techniques, which "are inherently inefficient due to thermal energy losses, large footprint, or degradation of sorbent material," as the researchers describe in a recent paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

"[The technique] is just these very thin sheets, with both surfaces active, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a source of electricity," MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the method alongside T. Alan Hatton, told MIT News.

Voskian et. al

The key advantage of the technology is the electrodes' unique ability to absorb (or, more precisely, "adsorb") and release carbon dioxide efficiently during charging and discharging, without requiring intermediate steps.

"This binary affinity allows capture of carbon dioxide from any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and allows its release into any carrier stream, including 100 percent CO2," Voskian told MIT News.

Making carbon capture more efficient

Carbon capture is the process of capturing carbon dioxide from point sources, such as a factory, before the gas enters the atmosphere. Once captured, carbon is typically stored underground or used for manufacturing purposes, like for carbonizing beverages. It's a promising technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But even though more than 30 million tons of CO2 is captured every year, that's still just a tiny percentage of the carbon needed to be captured in order to achieve environmental goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, according to a 2018 report from the Global CCS Institute. The hope is that new technologies, like the recent electrochemical approach, will make carbon capture more efficient.

Voskian said his team's approach could be up to 10 times more efficient than some current carbon-capture and capture-absorbing techniques, and that it'd be relatively easy to scale up.

"If you want more capacity, you just need to make more electrodes."

Iron Age discoveries uncovered outside London, including a ‘murder’ victim

A man's skeleton, found facedown with his hands bound, was unearthed near an ancient ceremonial circle during a high speed rail excavation project.

Photo Credit: HS2
Culture & Religion
  • A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during an excavation outside of London.
  • The discovery was made during a high speed rail project that has been a bonanza for archaeology, as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route.
  • An ornate grave of a high status individual from the Roman period and an ancient ceremonial circle were also discovered during the excavations.
Keep reading Show less

New feature of human evolution discovered

Research reveals a new evolutionary feature that separates humans from other primates.

Human evolution.

Credit: Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new feature of human evolution.
  • Humans have evolved to use less water per day than other primates.
  • The nose is one of the factors that allows humans to be water efficient.
Keep reading Show less

Skepticism: Why critical thinking makes you smarter

Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.

Videos
  • It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
  • Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
  • As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

New study suggests placebo might be as powerful as psychedelics

New study suggests the placebo effect can be as powerful as microdosing LSD.

Quantcast