New Computer Model Helps Identify Best Materials For Carbon Capture
Reducing carbon-emissions and trapping greenhouse gases is an expensive undertaking for a power plant. A new study pinpoints specific materials that are efficient at capturing carbon, and could reduce operating costs for carbon capture by as much as 30 perccent.
As of right now, a power plant would have to use around one-third of it's energy if it invests in carbon-capture using current technologies - termed a "parasitic cost." There would be less energy for public use, and as a result, the price of energy would rise.
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"The current on-the-shelf process of carbon capture has problems, including environmental ones, if you do it on a large scale," said Berend Smit, Chancellor's Professor in the departments of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at UC Berkeley and a faculty senior scientist in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).
The scientists have developed a computer model that can determine whether a specific material is an improvement over current carbon-capturing molecules. By entering the structure of the proposed molecule on to Smit's website, anyone can cross reference a possible new carbon-capturing molecule.
"What is unique about this model is that, for the first time, we are able to guide the direction for materials research and say, 'here are the properties we want, even if we don't know what the ultimate material will look like,'" said Abhoyjit Bhown, a co-author of the study and a technical executive at EPRI.
There are no current power plants that implement carbon-capturing on a large scale, thanks to its high costs and potential to harm the environment around it. The ones that do are smaller plants, running emissions through nitrogen based amines which capture the carbon, which is then compressed and pumped underground.