The membranes are environmentally-friendly, and do not generate waste. They can also intensify chemical processes and are now considered one of the most energy-efficient methods for reducing carbon emissions. This next-generation of high-performance membranes will pave the way for critical separations in the future.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas produced from burning fossil fuels that contributes to climate change. One way to cut down on CO2 emissions is through a carbon capture, which is a chemical technique that removes CO2 out of emissions, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. The captured CO2 can then be recycled or stored in a gas or liquid form, using a process called sequestration.
Carbon capture can be done using high-performance membranes, which are polymer filters that can select CO2 from a mixture of gases. Scientists led by Kumar Varoon Agrawal at EPFL Valais Wallis in Switzerland have recently developed a new class of high-performance membranes that exceeds previous post-combustion capture targets. The membranes use a single-layer-graphene with a selective layer thinner than 20 nm, and are highly adjustable in regard to chemical properties.
Image Caption: CO2-selective polymeric chains anchored on graphene effectively pull CO2 from a flue gas mixture. Credit: KV Agrawal (EPFL).