Carbon Capture technologies are agents which absorb carbon and are known as poly(ethylenimine) (PEI) sorbents. The issue with these sorbents is that over time they degrade and this limits their ability to capture CO2. Therefore, LLNL and the National Renewable Energy Laborartory joined together in research to develop a method which will effectively counteract anyway the effectiveness of these materials may decline.
The scientists dived into looking at a process called epoxide-functionalization, which does achieve their aim. LLNL scientist Sichi Li, lead and co-corresponding author of the paper commented, “While the term may sound intricate, it involves a simple one-pot reaction to introduce new functional groups into the sorbents. Through meticulous computer simulations, we found that these functional groups foster robust hydrogen bonds within the material’s structure and slow down undesired oxidation reactions, enhancing its lifetime.”
After testing their findings virtually, the scientists experimented with real CO2 and found the results aligned, with the result being that the enhanced sorbents demonstrated excellent durability and retained their CO2-capturing capacity even after multiple uses.
Simon Pang, co-corresponding author and project principal investigator, expressed enthusiasm towards the new discovery, “This finding marks a notable step toward enhancing our ability to understand and design novel long-lived sorbents for direct air carbon capture, allowing these materials to meaningfully contribute to combating climate change.”
This is the first step towards exploring new chemical modifications which is the next steps within this industry. Research is already underway around exploring new chemical modifications to continue developing sorbents with stronger bonds and increasing the impact of carbon capture technologies for industries and pushing us closer to a greener and more sustainable future.