Sieve shuts door on trapped carbon

U. MELBOURNE (AUS) — A new molecular sieve that acts like an ultra-fine filter is a less expensive and more efficient way to capture carbon dioxide, research shows.

The quest to capture carbon dioxide is crucial to a cleaner future, scientists say. Once captured, carbon dioxide can be compressed and safely stored, but current processes are inefficient and require several stages of refining and extraction before a pure form of carbon dioxide is produced.

The new sieve, developed by Paul Webley, a professor at the University of Melbourne, and colleagues allows carbon dioxide molecules to be trapped and stored.


Webley says the results of the study—published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society “—suggest that this new material “has important applications to natural gas purification. Many natural gas fields contain excess carbon dioxide that must be removed before the gas can be liquefied and shipped.

“Because the process allows only carbon dioxide molecules to be captured, it will reduce the cost and energy required for separating carbon dioxide. The technology works on the principle of the material acting like a trapdoor that only allows certain molecules to enter,” he adds. “Once entered, the trapdoor closes and the carbon dioxide molecules remain.

“We have a new material that is able to separate carbon dioxide from any given stream such as power stations and from natural gas sources. While we can’t change industry in a hurry, we have provided a viable bridging solution.”

Source: University of Melbourne