Researchers at Rice University Created Foam That Absorbs CO2 from Air!

One must ask a question – how can we heavily mitigate those power plants’ CO2 emissions in the near future? If we still continue to use fossil fuel powered energy without focusing on our health. Today, the researchers

across the globe are striving to achieve the common goal, which has a major attention world-wide, the climate change and global warming from the continuous emissions of hazardous carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.   One of the long-term goals is to entirely switch to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. But the reality is that, right now, renewables still form the only small fraction of our global power supply.   

In the developing countries, where coal power is still the cheapest form of energy by far, and likely will be for a while!  

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A molecular dynamics simulation shows polyvinyl alcohol molecules of carbon (teal), oxygen (red) and hydrogen (white) binding two-dimensional sheets of hexagonal-boron nitride (blue and yellow).  

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Blocks of hexagonal-boron nitride foam treated with polyvinyl alcohol  

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A microscope image shows the high surface area of hexagonal-boron nitride foam glued together with polyvinyl alcohol. Images credit: Rice University (The Ajayan Research Group)

To address this issue, the materials scientists at the Rice University have created light foam from two-dimensional sheets of hexagonal-boron nitride (h-BN) that absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2)!  

The Freeze-drying h-BN turned it into macro-scale foam which disintegrates in liquids. The new highly porous foam is created by adding the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) into the mix. Their work appeared in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.  

According to the researcher Pulickel Ajayan, the new material can sequester more than three times its weigh in carbon dioxide, before releasing the gas on demand and allowing the spongy substance to be reused. Its properties can be tuned for use in air filters and as gas absorption materials.  

During molecular dynamics simulations, the foam absorbed 340 per cent of its own weight in carbon dioxide and compression tests showed the foam got stiffer through 2,000 cycles, said Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, co-author of the study.  

By adding a layer of a polymer called PDMS, the team found the foam could also form an effective laser shield, which might be useful in shielding biological tissue from lasers. (Source: Rice University)


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