Researchers in Ireland developed a liquid full of holes that may trap greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane.
According to Stuart James, a professor of inorganic chemistry and postgraduate advisor of studies within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University of Belfast, this is the first made-made porous material in liquid form.
Professor James said that materials that contain pores or holes are very important technologically speaking. They can be used to manufacture a wide variety of products, such as petrol and plastic bottles. Until recently all of these porous materials were solids, he added.
To create the special liquid, the researchers first designed the shapes of the molecules that would make up the liquid. That way the liquid was not able to fill up all the space.
The researchers dissolved the molecules – that look like small cages with a hollow space inside, which can be accessed though tiny windows – in a solvent. The molecules of the solvent were too large to fit through the windows of the cage-like molecules, and so the final liquid that the researchers developed had empty holes floating around.
The pores in the liquid’s structure may create enclosures round methane, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gasses, according to the researchers.
Over a period of 100 years, the impact of methane on climate change is about 25 higher (or more) than that of carbon dioxide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated. Therefore greenhouse gas capture technology is very much needed.
Carbon dioxide can be captured before or after combustion, or in oxy-fuel combustion, which is the process of burning fuel using pure oxygen as a primary oxidant instead of air.
Scientists at Queen’s University of Belfast said that their porous liquid will have the best results at capturing carbon emissions post combustion.
Dr. Michael Mastalerz, a professor of organic chemistry at Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg suggested that this liquid could also be used in the future, in transport or gas separation, because it has a lot of advantages as it is in liquid form and can be pumped through various things, including pipes.
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