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ZHAW researchers develop a hybrid material for the more efficient recovery of CO2

The recovery of CO2 from the atmosphere is becoming increasingly important as a measure in the fight against climate change. ZHAW researchers have developed a material that can help to reduce the energy expenditure in this process.

In the battle against climate change, technical innovations will play the most important role. In addition to carbon-neutral energy generation, this will also involve the recovery of CO2 that has already been released into the atmosphere. The recovered CO2 can then be used as a raw material, stored or saved in suitable basalt rocks for several thousands of years.

The CO2 is recovered by drawing in surrounding air through a kind of filter that is coated with a CO2 absorbing material. As soon as this is fully loaded, the filter is heated and the CO2 molecules break free. However, the currently available filters have to be heated to around 80 to 100 degrees Celsius for this to happen.


CO2 solutions at lower temperatures

Researchers at the ZHAW Institute of Materials and Process Engineering (IMPE) have developed a hybrid material with which the separation of CO2 molecules is possible at much lower temperatures. Under laboratory conditions, the CO2 already comes free at 50 degrees Celsius. The researchers call the material, which is made of polyethylenimine and ionic fluid, “IMPE-Cap”. The researchers have been able to show that “IMPE-Cap” weakens the chemical bond between CO2 and the material’s surface. According to ZHAW researcher Nobutaka Maeda, “IMPE-Cap” could help companies in saving energy when separating CO2 from power-plant exhaust emissions or the atmosphere and thus in reducing operating costs. CO2 can also be used as a raw material, for example during the production of plant fertilisers, cooling agents and synthetic fuels.