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New Material Can Selectively Capture CO2

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the who-needs-plants-anyway dept.

Earth 285

Socguy brings us a story from CBC News about a recently developed crystal that can soak up carbon dioxide gas "like a sponge." Chemists from UCLA believe that the crystals will become a cheap, stable method to absorb emissions at power plants. We discussed a prototype for another CO2 extraction device last year. Quoting: "'The technical challenge of selectively removing carbon dioxide has been overcome,' said UCLA chemistry professor Omar Yaghi in a statement. The porous structures can be heated to high temperatures without decomposing and can be boiled in water or solvents for a week and remain stable, making them suitable for use in hot, energy-producing environments like power plants. The highly porous crystals also had what the researchers called 'extraordinary capacity for storing CO2': one litre of the crystals could store about 83 litres of CO2."

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Like corn cobs? (4, Interesting)

F34nor (321515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453798)

I wonder if this is similar to the charcoal briquetting technique shown about a year ago with corn cobs and natural gas. http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=108390/ [nsf.gov]

Like Zeolite (2, Insightful)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454000)

They are like Zeolites. For mobile applications, they're going to need a lot better than 83X. More like 1000X. This might be useful for stationary applications, however.

Re:Like Zeolite (2, Interesting)

F34nor (321515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454138)

Sounds like a poor man's Aerogel! [wikipedia.org] Not that many rich people are rich enough to buy this stuff. Unless they want scraps from United Nuclear. [unitednuclear.com] If you want green Aerogel and not stuff that is decribed as being more dangerous to make than TNT to make you can create some SEAgel [wikipedia.org] buy freeze drying agar. [wikipedia.org]

I already have a CO2 storage device (5, Insightful)

bhodikhan (894485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453814)

I use another CO2 storage technology in my house already. It's called WOOD. Doesn't have any patents tied to it and the more we plant, cut up and build with, the more CO2 we will remove from the atmosphere. Sure there might be a more high tech solution with a higher yield but planting trees and using them also produces oxygen as well. Nice idea but it's been done before. Way before.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453894)

Didn't you listen to Reagan, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do"

Not listening to Reagan? Friggin' pinkos....

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (3, Interesting)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454860)

So, you think the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains have all that haze from the massive car pollution there, vice the ozone-producing isoprene that plants, trees in particular, emit, with plant hydrocarbon emission being at a rate ten times that of all the world's cars?

I suppose listening only to that great bastion of unbiased scientific study, the 4:1 liberal:conservative press, is one option...

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455046)

the 4:1 liberal:conservative press


Hah. Oh, that's funny. Or sad, depending on whether or not you actually believe it.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (5, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453918)

I use another CO2 storage technology in my house already. It's called WOOD.

Hopefully sourced from any trees which were cut down to make space for your house...?

But seriously, the other neat trick is that even if you cut down the wood and burn it for power, you're only putting back the CO2 which the tree took out - not releasing carbon that has been safely out of the equation for millions of years.

Sadly, though, it looks like the idea of biofuels is going to get discredited by the lamebrained alcohol-from-corn debacle.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (0)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454100)

It's all about preserving scarcity and thus control. There's no reason we couldn't have transportation systems that run off local ocean driven power generation for all our costal cities, and make local personal transportation free of charge and free of pollution. We could build such systems right now, and make them durable enough to last hundreds of years. But then we wouldn't need this fascist control, where companies and governments are in bed together keeping the power strucuture alive and the resources always in short supply. If we didn't have that, the ruling classes wouldn't have a structure that allows them to continue to rule.

Whatever we do, if we arrive there through the current leadership, it will be inefficient and require us all to work hard and follow orders to keep things running. That's the way they like it.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454234)

There's no reason we couldn't have transportation systems that run off local ocean driven power generation for all our costal cities

Quite a few reasons actually, for one tidal power generation systems haven't been perfected yet.

and make local personal transportation free of charge and free of pollution.

Free of pollution? Maybe so, but certainly NOT free of charge - you'd end up paying for it somehow, whether it's a per ride charge or a subscription service or out of your taxes depends, but just like 'free' healthcare in nations with nationalized healthcare services, you still end up paying for it.

Resources have pretty much always been in 'short supply', it's just that as we gain methods to extract more resources, so doesn't our desires to do stuff to exploit them.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454450)

Yeah. Just like all those Egyptians who are STILL paying taxes on that pyramid to this day.

Get a brain. Power generation through water has been working for ages, and it's not a difficult concept to get right. It's not cheap enough to be efficient, when you inflate the costs of the materials, and deflate the cost of the oil, and tweak the timeframe around until that's the answer that you get. But if you built it right, it could last for generations without need for fuel, and drive light rail systems day and night without significant investment of human effort.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454782)

I once worked at a materials lab that studied how things hold up in a marine environment, and I grew up on the ocean. Nothing lasts very long. Not stainless steel, not titanium, and certainly not any kind of mechanism. Constant maintenance and replacement is required in a marine environment, and this is one of the reasons that tidal power has been so slow in coming.

And this is without getting into big storms, which can wipe out a whole island - let alone some man-made fixture.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454908)

Yeah. Just like all those Egyptians who are STILL paying taxes on that pyramid to this day

Considering the amount of foreign aid we send to Israel, yup we're still paying taxes on'em

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (5, Informative)

wumingzi (67100) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454936)

Dude, you really need to cut back on the hydro, in more ways than one.

A pyramid is a static structure. All it has to do is sit year after year.

A power-generating station is full of moving parts. Things with moving parts break down over time. You may want to look at this handy informational link [usbr.gov] which shows maintenance over time on our local power plant. (since it's run by falling water, it provides some of the world's cheapest power, regardless)

When you start talking about tidal power, you are talking about putting devices which sit in salt water day after day. Go find someone who owns a boat. ANY boat, large, small, freighter or dinghy and talk about this idea of "set it and forget it". Watch as peals of laughter come rolling from their mouth. Boat owners in this part of the world (US Pacific Northwest) will pay a substantial rental premium to moor their boats in fresh water because it saves so much money on maintenance.

Finally, remember that electricity is like no other commodity on earth. You can not store it for a rainy day. You use it when it's generated, or not at all. Even fish (our other highly perishable commodity) can be canned or packed in salt. Good luck doing that with electricity.

Yes, oil gets some subsidies. Yes, euphemistically named "energy companies" almost certainly throw their weight around to discourage development of alternative energy sources. These are fairly small market-distorting effects which reinforce (but do not change) an underlying fact: historically, petroleum has been the cheapest and most flexible means of generating energy. While we get spoiled in this part of the world by abundant hydropower, there are some fairly serious environmental consequences (check out our vanishing salmon runs!) and hydro is a one-off. Once you've dammed the river, you're done. You can't scale this solution forever.

While more needs to be done with alternative energy sources, there seems to be this meme running around that there is cheap power floating around which is being withheld from the people by "The Man". Standing in the way of that cheap power in reality is not some gigantic conspiracy, but some really tough unsolved engineering problems (i.e. how do you store enough energy to power a city for when the sun don't shine or the wind don't blow? A big pile of batteries doesn't really work).

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (4, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454468)

But then we wouldn't need this fascist control, where companies and governments are in bed together keeping the power strucuture alive and the resources always in short supply.

Totally. Why, I hear that those bastards have suppressed some sort of globe-spanning communication network that would have allowed the populace access to vast amounts of information about every subject under the sun. Billions of pages, all at your fingertips, from a simple device in your home. Obviously, it would have made it much harder for them to control us. So those fascist parasites killed it.

Oh, wait. No, actually, the government funded the initial development of the Internet, and corporations funded a lot of the subsequent development and most of the rollout. Hmmm. I wonder if your world-view could do with a little expansion.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454146)

But seriously, the other neat trick is that even if you cut down the wood and burn it for power, you're only putting back the CO2 which the tree took out - not releasing carbon that has been safely out of the equation for millions of years.

But IMHO a better way to accomplish the same thing is to extract the CO2 from the atmosphere and store it as octane, like I suggest here [slashdot.org] (in a post that was modded down for no reason by the people that are stalking me), and get the energy to do that from nuclear power, like this guy [nytimes.com] has already worked out the details for. That way, the gasoline you would burn, would only return to the atmosphere, what was taken from it.

Of course, the purpose of the global warming alarmism is NOT, and never has been, to find ways to reduce net carbon emissions and prevent catastrophe. The purpose, for most such alarmists, is to shut down activity they don't like. "Global warming" is a pretense. Anything that stops global warming, but doesn't shut down those activities, will be vehemently opposed.

And btw, whenever someone tells me that woodburning is good for the environment, I always have to ask, *whose* environment? Not the environment of the people who have to breathe the surrounding air!

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (5, Interesting)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454358)

And btw, whenever someone tells me that woodburning is good for the environment, I always have to ask, *whose* environment? Not the environment of the people who have to breathe the surrounding air!
Yeah, good point actually. People are really focused on the greenhouse gas thing and ignore the effects of particulates. If you've ever been to a place that has a lot of wood stoves and not much wind, then you'll know all about bad air quality thanks to wood burning.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (2, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454822)

bad air quality thanks to wood burning
Not all smoke is bad. Wood smoke is high in antioxidants [usda.gov] . Also, in the US in recent years, the only woodstoves legal for sale are EPA certified, with much lower particulate output [epa.gov] than older stoves and fireplaces.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455096)

Fair enough. I grew up in a rather windless valley where everyone in town had a fireplace and/or wood stove, and the air got pretty thick sometimes ;) But I can certainly believe that things have improved.

I had no idea about the antioxidants thing, thanks for that. But isn't any sort of smoke particle going to cause lung problems in the end?

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22453986)

Indeed. From a human perspective, the biggest problem with wood was that it was very labor intensive to use as a building material in the past. As mechanization spreads and expands in the industry, it will become trivial. This sort of repetitive process is exactly what robots are good at. And the state of AI is good enough that a robot can intelligently figure out which trees are ready to cut, whether it is authorized to, etc.

From an ecological perspective, use of wood is a bit more difficult to characterize. It is fair to say that a lot of damage has been done to relatively fragile ecosystems in the pursuit of wood. It is also fair to say that a reforestation effort would not hurt these lands any more than they currently are.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (-1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454074)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't plants inhale oxygen and exhale CO2 at night? I'm pretty sure their 'carbon footprint' isn't as small as the sandalistas would have you believe.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454162)

You are wrong - plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of their metabolic cycle (otherwise known as photosynthesis).

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454338)

Plants photosynthesize to store energy, taking in CO2 and releasing oxygen during the process.

Occasionally(not really, actually all the time), they use some of that stored energy, taking in oxygen and releasing CO2 during the process. The carbon dioxide that is involved in photosynthesis doesn't get directly added to the structure of the tree, it is stored and then later used to service the metabolic needs of the plant. The part where it is used releases CO2.

For something like a tree, the CO2 that ends up as actual wood is going to be fixed for quite a while, a couple of hundreds years of the tree's life, and then a while after that, until the tree has rotted. Even then, some fraction would probably remain in the soil.

Re:I already have a CO2 storage device (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454710)

the more we plant, cut up and build with, the more CO2 we will remove from the atmosphere

Indeed. And using very old trees which don't fix carbon as fast as they did when they were younger & growing is even better. As long as new trees are planted to replace the old ones the plan is a winner.

I've planted tens of thousands of trees in my life. Where do I go to get my carbon credit? :)

Powerplant Modernization (4, Insightful)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453816)

So I can tell you that these guys with powerplants will take forever to modernize to use this technology. If you have a steady stream of income, and a reason to not go down, then you're gonna hate to do anything to cut into your profits and to also interrupt that stream of income for even a second. Inertia and income are the drivers for these plants to never, ever make any changes to benefit the environment.

Re:Powerplant Modernization (1)

Gyga (873992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454020)

The heads of companies will do anything to get eviromentalist off their backs.

Re:Powerplant Modernization (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454030)

worth pointing out that a carbon tax would fix that problem.

Re:Powerplant Modernization (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455132)

This is a good example for the "Electric cars are bad" people...

With a relatively few power plants to fix up, we can actually focus on how to do it, and we can pass taxes and legislation that aren't directly targeted at individual people... so fixing up power plants becomes a hell of a lot easier than trying to fix up all the cars on the road.

Practical or easy right now? no
But it's at least a tractable problem.

Re:Powerplant Modernization (1)

Orne (144925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455144)

Yeah, a carbon tax would do a good job of stopping power companies from ever building more power plants, limiting supply, thus since our demand is not increasing, the rates are going to go up, making all of our electricity more expensive.

Good job

Re:Powerplant Modernization (3, Insightful)

cunamara (937584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454526)

That and needing hundreds of liters of these crystals per hour to absorb the CO2 produced by a coal- or natural gas- fired powerplant. USG (United States Gypsum) was working on stuff like this to absorb acids out of smokestack emissions 20+ years ago and determined that, while it could be done, it just wasn't cost-reasonable.

Gasp! (5, Funny)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453818)

Another use for dilithium crystals!

Great Scott!

Coming Soon... (3, Funny)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453820)

Slurm Extreme.. now with 83 times as much fizz!

Re:Coming Soon... (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453892)

"It's like there' a party in my mouth, and everybody's throwing up!"

Increasing Oxygen content in the atmo! (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453826)

Some ecoterrorist will get ahold of these and soak up all the CO2 in the atmosphere killing us all!

(Probably through a personal and major misunderstanding of biology, not through any actual malicious intent)

other uses (3, Interesting)

Exile1 (746114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453830)

wonder how this will advanced re-breathers, as you need to remove co2 from them.

And how does it affect the environment? (4, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453836)

So, you spill a few liters of the stuff - what does it do when it gets in contact with living creatures (like algae? birds? small children?) And how long does it take to break down and release all those gases? (That would be useful - like a CO2 tank for plants for long space voyages)... I think there are a lot of questions.

More detailed link Re: . affect ... environment? (5, Informative)

Precipitous (586992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454516)

I doubt that long term studies have been completed. It doesn't seem like ZIFs are extremely new, this process for creating them and this particular variation are new. That said, several other sources provide better information than the CBC link and speak directly to your question. The CBC article states in first paragraph: "the crystals are non-toxic and would require little extra energy from a power plant."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080214144344.htm/ [sciencedaily.com] Suggests that this looks much cleaner than existing state of the art:

Currently, the process of capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants involves the use of toxic materials and requires 20 to 30 percent of the plant's energy output, Yaghi said. By contrast, ZIFs can pluck carbon dioxide from other gases that are emitted and can store five times more carbon dioxide than the porous carbon materials that represent the current state-of-art.

Yaghi's initial idea of what to do with the material afterwards appears to involve geologic storage.

It's also always useful to hunt down the primary source. I think this PDF [ucla.edu] is it (I only skimmed).

full? (3, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453846)

and what happens when these crystals are full?

Re:full? (1, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453886)

You put them where all the oil and coal came from.

Re:full? (4, Funny)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454362)

...thus solving the problem once and for all.

Re:full? (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454614)

Well, "like a sponge", you squeeze it and use it again.

Re:full? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454838)

That's the beauty of it - you burn them! :)

So when's the IPO? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453866)

Question is, when's the IPO for a company mass producing this stuff?

Solution without a Problem (1, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453870)

CO2 is a lagging indicator of global warming, not a catalyst for it. It takes 300 - 1,200 years for CO2 concentrations to rise after an increase in global temperature. This is a scientifically intriguing discovery, but it's more likely of interest to human spaceflight, not saving the world.

Re:Solution without a Problem (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454072)

CO2 is a lagging indicator of global warming, not a catalyst for it.

* [Citation Needed]

Re:Solution without a Problem (-1, Troll)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454166)

Google is your friend [newscientist.com] .

And Climate Audit [climateaudit.org] is also your friend - very eye-opening, unbiased, scientific and statistical examination of a lot of the global warming debate.

Re:Solution without a Problem (4, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454414)

Well, the first article is actually a myth busting entry debunking the theory that the lag associated with the past couple of ice ages somehow proves that CO2 does not cause warming.

The second website looks to me like a highly biased collection of cargo cult science put together by people who specialize in fields like economics, not climatology.

Re:Solution without a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454990)

Except that first article can be summed up as: "Since 'climate scientists' don't think so it must not be so. Ignore the man/data behind the curtain." It does the proverbial hand wave, says "these aren't the graphs you're looking for" and then blathers on about *other* factors that affect earth's climate. It never actually gets around to explaining why these scientists don't think the ice core data throws the link into question. It's nothing but appeal to authority.

The fact of the matter is a graph that shows CO2 lagging temperature *does* throw the relationship of the two into question. New Scientists here claims to answer that question but woefully fails to deliver.

Re:Solution without a Problem (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455130)

It never actually gets around to explaining why these scientists don't think the ice core data throws the link into question.

If you understood the article, it should be pretty obvious that CO2 likely didn't trigger the end of the last few ice ages given that there probably weren't any large releases of CO2 like we're making now. (And before anybody gets any big ideas: Volcanoes aren't the culprit. They release a tiny fraction as much CO2 as humans.) As the article points out, the changes likely were triggered by other factors like changes in the earth's orbit.

If the CO2 didn't trigger the changes, but does participate in a positive feedback loop, then of course it would lag the temperature. But that has nothing to do at all with the question of whether an increase in CO2 levels could also trigger a warming cycle.

Re:Solution without a Problem (1)

Echoes64 (1241104) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454960)

Here's your citition...

"Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years" By Siegfried Fred Singer, Dennis T. Avery, pg. 36

Re:Solution without a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22455028)

Why? The logic is impeccable. Cf. Water in the lungs is a lagging indicator of drowning, not a catalyst.

Re:Solution without a Problem (1)

ksalter (1009029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454076)

Can you give a reference for this please, especially the 300 - 1200 years number?

Re:Solution without a Problem (4, Interesting)

ductonius (705942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454080)

Spaceflight and oceanographic research. With cheaper rebreathers underwater research will become more affordable. It seems this chemical will absorb more CO2 than regular CO2 scubbers too, and having a scrubber media that isn't reactive to water would be a huge safety factor.

Re:Solution without a Problem (1, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454320)

No, actually CO2 and global temperature are like a couple making love. When one of them makes the first gentle push, the other reacts, which in turn causes a bigger push.

And let me tell you something: you absolutely do not want to get caught between these two deadly lovers, because their love is destructive from our point of view. (And I guess I'm totally missing the target audience here on slashdot with a sex analogy.)

Raises two questions (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453896)

First, how much CO2 is produced in making those crystals and second, what shall we do with them once they're full? Dump them in some old salt min... no, wait, there's already that radioactive waste.

Re:Raises two questions (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22453952)

second, what shall we do with them once they're full?
I hear RJ Reynolds is working around the clock to figure out how to get them into cigarettes

You just have to complain! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454022)

I swear, some crazy folks won't be happy until we live in caves, but then you'll complain about using fire! We need cheap power and lots of it. We'd already have it if people would stop complaining about everything. Ugh.

Re:Raises two questions (1)

hakey (1227664) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455060)

RTFM.

A subheading of the article "Little energy needed to create crystals"

[Yaghi] said the crystals are non-toxic and would require little extra energy from a power plant, making them an ideal alternative to current methods of CO2 filtering.

Measuring a gas in litres? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22453908)

Ok I'm the first to admit I haven't RTFA, but does it strike anyone else as pointless to talk about "83 litres" of CO2? It depends how much you compress it, and if it's absorbed in a 1l crystal, it clearly is no more than 1l. It would be a lot more meaningful to talk about the MASS ratio.

Re:Measuring a gas in litres? (3, Informative)

Anakron (899671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454096)

That's 83 liters at STP.
Carbon dioxide weighs in at 1.98 grams/L at STP.
1.98*83 = 164.34 grams

They're absorbing 164.34 grams in 1 liter of the crystals. Definitely underwhelming.

Re:Measuring a gas in litres? (2, Informative)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454210)

Well given that 1 mol of gas in STP is 22.4L, 83L of CO2 comes to about 3.7 mol. The molar mass of CO2 is about 44 g/mol (12 + 16 + 16), so 83L comes to about 162.8g. Now I don't know what the density of this crystal is, but it's hard to believe that it's less than 0.1628g/cm^3, at which point the absorption mass ratio is 1:1. So I think it's safe to say that the absorption ratio will be more than 1:1 (that is, more crystal mass is required to capture a significantly smaller mass of gas).

I'm guessing they decided to go by the volume ratio of 1:83 to hype it up a bit (Wow! That must be a lot!), but anyone who's had basic chemistry education would know that gas densities are so low that a high volume compared to a solid means nothing.

Re:Measuring a gas in litres? (1)

Darfeld (1147131) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454218)

When someone talk about 1l, without mention of temperature or pressure, I think you can safely assume that they are about 300 K and 1000 hP... For some reason, the 1l make more sens for people when you speak about gazes, and they would understand kelvin or pascal, or why it is important.

Very Good... (1)

Shuntros (1059306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453914)

So then what are they going to do with it?

Re:Very Good... (1, Interesting)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454198)

Well, you get up to 21 pounds of CO2 from a pound of crude oil [carbonrally.com] - a 21:1 increase in "stuff". This sponge apparently can do a 1:83 reverse, so the whole system appears to be a 21:83 savings in space underground. Why not pump it right back into the ground?

Re:Very Good... (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454472)

That's per gallon of crude, not per pound. Crude weighs about 6.6 pounds per gallon, so we're really talking about a 3.2:1 increase in "stuff". I'm not a chemist, but since the oxygen is coming from the air, and not the oil, that might be reasonable.

But aside from that, your first ratio is dealing in mass, and your second is volume, so you can't really compare them that way.

Re:Very Good... (4, Informative)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454578)

Well, you get up to 21 pounds of CO2 from a pound of crude oil - a 21:1 increase in "stuff". This sponge apparently can do a 1:83 reverse, so the whole system appears to be a 21:83 savings in space underground. Why not pump it right back into the ground?

That is so wrong that I am forced to suspend your Slashdot license.

First, that page page doesn't say "pound of crude oil"; it says "gallon". That's like 7.5 pounds of oil. So that's a 3x increase in stuff. (Which some would call "mass".) Then these crystals do 1:83 in volume, but more like 10:11 in mass. So to get rid of your pound of crude oil, you'd need about 30 pounds of these crystals.

Please go study Dimensional Analysis [tamu.edu] (aka the unit-factor method or the factor-label method). Once you have mastered that, you will be permitted to post on science-y topics again.

What about the place the crystals came from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454660)

Since there is a hole in the ground where the "stuff" of the crystals (whatever it's made of .. not the CO2), that too can be filled. So the actual extra volume needed is not that bad. Furthermore whats wrong with a few extra mounds in the middle of the desert? We arent increasing the overall mass of the earth.

Re:Very Good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454656)

Well, no.

The piece of information that's missing from the article is the density of this thing.

Absorbing 83 times its volume in CO2 is all well and good until you realize they're talking about a *gas*. With a density of about 1.8 kg/m3. So 83 litres is about 150 grams. If those crystals weight more than 1kg/l (and I assume they don't float), they absorb less than 15% of CO2 in mass. Which is rather less impressive.

I'm sure they'll find applications in space flight, submarines and what not, but, well this 420MW plant [power-technology.com] produces 1.2MT of CO2 a year (and seems fairly clean and efficient). Thinking about carrying 5.6 MT of those crystal there and back is just plain stupid.

Send it to outer space or turn it into oil (2, Interesting)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454610)

Use clean energy (such as nuclear, or hopefully in under 20 years, fusion) to turn it back into oil, or send it to space. Or dump it in middle of the deserts until we have the clean energy sources to turn it into plastic or something.

How Much CO2... (1)

wsteger (931791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453938)

...is set free (directly or indirectly) during production of these crystals?

Re:How Much CO2... (0)

jobsagoodun (669748) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453982)

84 Litres

(I made that up btw).

only 1 thing (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22453942)

the only thing i foresee is that if the crystals (which, admittedly, i know little about) are harmful to the world (like plastic), we're still screwed.

Re:only 1 thing (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454118)

Not really. They could be as chemically poisonous as plutonium, but still be useful. I mean, we're not talking about sequestering carbon dioxide with this stuff and then making Coke bottles out of it. It'll have to be put somewhere, of course, and that will pose problems. So which is worse? Global warming, or providing long-term storage of chemical residue?

One's opinion on that depends upon where one sits on the issue of global warming, I suppose.

Re:only 1 thing (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454662)

very understandable, but my point is that solutions should be final (wow, that kind of sounded bad); they shouldn't lead to more problems. if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Or, if you're part of the solution, you may still be part of the problem, if your solution sucks. again, i don't really know enough about it to be a critic; just a skeptic. that was just one thing that immediately hit me.

Then what? Can the crystals be used for anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22453958)

It would be nice if they had a use for all the solid "waste" this is going to produce. Can it be used as fill dirt, for example?

how much ENERGY does it take to make a crystal? (5, Interesting)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454062)

I hate to be the grumpy old man throwing the wet blanket of thermodynamic skepticism on this fancy new idea, but since these are new crystals, I have to imagine they are not present in nature, and thus take lots of energy to make. Thus, to soak up a lot of CO2 takes a lot of energy - but using lots of energy is why we have CO2 to begin with. All the CO2 sequestration ideas I've read about so far don't make any sense from a macro-ecological perspective, since their use actually drives up energy usage, precisely the opposite of the response we should be making to the problem. "Oh, but we can make the crystals with clean nuclear power!" Really? If that's case, you can just not make the crystals and use that clean power instead! It doesn't take much of a puzzle for even smart people to fall for plans which, at their root, are just perpetual motion machines.

Re:how much ENERGY does it take to make a crystal? (3, Interesting)

triskaidekaphile (252815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454250)

Unless those crystals are going at light speed or they are made from antimatter, we should not be confusing the energy creation cost with the crystals' chemical absorption ability. (It doesn't cost much water to make my sponge, but it sure as heck absorbs a lot of H2O!) Now if someone claims the full crystal could later be taken and converted into fuel that somehow released more energy than the cost of creating the crystal and the CO2 in the first place, then we would indeed be violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

betties just aren't attracted (2, Insightful)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454324)

I agree with you, but usually people stop adding up the energy costs of some new technology at some arbitrarily-premature place in the process. For example, once these crystals are soaked with CO2, where do you put them? How toxic are they? (CO2 is acidic and can be toxic when concentrated). How bulky are they? If I was Dictator, I would want to see the complete ledger of energy costs for this before I signed off on it. My guess is that conservation is cheaper, but conservation is always just TOO HARD because the betties just aren't attracted to guys driving cars with small engines.

Re:betties just aren't attracted (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454458)

Yeah, I mean the pragmatism is appreciated, but let's be fair. CO2 absorption is going to be a big business. Within the next 4 years you will either see a comprehensive greenhouse gas tax accessed on businesses based on tons of carbon equivalent emmitted or a means for businesses to trade permits to release tons of carbon equivalent. That means that corporations will NEED to abate and they will figure out the best way how. Turns out industry is really, really good at figuring out if something is efficient. In this case, if it takes more work (in terms of CO2 equivalent) to produce this stuff than what it removes, industry own't use it. You can look at the chemical refining industry for an example of some processes that would consume more of their desired output than they produce unless they were very carefully tweaked. The chemical engineering business spends a LOT of money and invests a LOT of time in tweaking those processes to make sure they aren't a waste.

The trick is that the companies need to be accessed for the costs they are imposing on the rest of us through the release of CO2, until then, they will make products without regard to the cleanliness of the output/input. But this fact doesn't mean that this prodcut is likely to see service without a cost-benefit analysis.

Re:how much ENERGY does it take to make a crystal? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454718)

Now if someone claims the full crystal could later be taken and converted into fuel that somehow released more energy than the cost of creating the crystal and the CO2 in the first place, then we would indeed be violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

No it won't, as the issue you mention here has absolutely nothing to do with the "Second Law of Thermodynamics" but with the "the law of conservation of energy", which is a difference

angel'o'sphere

Re:how much ENERGY does it take to make a crystal? (1)

Darfeld (1147131) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454356)

Just because you use nuclear power to make crystals doesn't mean you cannot use nuclear power for anything else. That's really doesn't seems like a closed circle to me.

Economics will take care of that. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454382)

If these crystals take a lot of energy to produce then they will take a lot of money to produce. Suppose a coal plant spends M dollars to produce E amounts of energy and C amounts of carbon dioxide. If this crystal uses more than E energy to soak up C amount of carbon dioxide, then installing it in their coal plant will give them a net negative income (for the portion of carbon that is being soaked up). While you can play games with producing the crystals when/where energy is cheap, and then using them when it is expensive, it would take a tremendously large carbon tax before even that became economically sensible.

Same with biofuels - as long as the government doesn't get too carried away with politically-motivated subsidies (*cough* corn ethanol *cough*), then you don't have to worry about any biofuel being net energy negative, because it would then also be net revenue negative. Heck, even corn ethanol isn't energy negative, just not nearly as energy positive as other fuels.

In the article the researchers expressed hope that this would be an inexpensive process which equates to low energy. We all know how often that claim doesn't pan out, but if it does then this could be a good thing. I'm more interested in how it compares to algae.

it's all about subsidies (1)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454460)

"as long as the government doesn't get too carried away with politically-motivated subsidies" Sure, if all costs (including those to future generations) were taken into account, pure economics could rule the day. But there are all sorts of distortions to this system, including subsidies, variable transmission costs, and the perpetual desire of a utility to grow into a monopoly or join a cartel. In this case, a regulation that required such crystals would throw a monkey wrench into the economics of the system.

use as a fertilizer? (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454148)

i do have to wonder if you could use the crystals (after they are full) as fertilizer, then these things would actually have some market value.

They would fill one room of your house every year (5, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454168)

  • The average US household produces 7.5 tons [whatsmyco2.com] of CO2 equivalents per year.
  • The density of C02 is 1.799 kg/m3 [answers.com]
  • So the average US household produces about 7.5*1000/1.799 m3 of CO2 = 4,169 m3 = 4,169,000 litres
  • One litre of the crystals could store about 83 litres of CO2.
  • So per family requires 4,169,000/83 = 50,228 litres of crystals per year
  • I guestimate the average house (of say 10 rooms) has a floorspace of about 1500 ft2 = 150 m2, with each room being 10 ft or 3 m high,
  • So the average house is 450 m3 = 450,000 litres, split between 10 rooms.
These crystals would about fill one room of every house every year, floor-to-ceiling.

As about half the other commentators have already said, this does not allow for the financial and environmental costs of producing these crystals.
They might even cost more CO2 to produce than they store.

Re:They would fill one room of your house every ye (1)

Fusen (841730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454270)

10 rooms in the average house? 10ft high ceilings is average? what sort of rich neighbourhood do you live in...

Re:They would fill one room of your house every ye (2, Funny)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454550)

One where the lumber yards obviously think its easier to work with 'metric' wood .. because its easier to multiply with :P

Re:They would fill one room of your house every ye (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454564)

These crystals would about fill one room of every house every year, floor-to-ceiling.
Finally, a market for all the houses foreclosed in the sub-prime mortgage disaster!

- RG>

Re:They would fill one room of your house every ye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454618)

These crystals would about fill one room of every house every year, floor-to-ceiling.

That, plus producing the crystals generates 84 liters of CO2.

Re:They would fill one room of your house every ye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454744)

I think the idea is *reversible* capture. So you wouldn't have to replace the crystal, just have a process that removes the CO2 from it.

The big problem with carbon capture and storage is capture. You can't just store all the air out of a power plant, that's still like 99% other gases, making storage 100 times as expensive. But filtering 1% CO2 out of other gases is very difficult. It seems this crystal might solve that, as it only takes up CO2. Then *if* they have a way to remove it, you would have a reusable crystal as well as ready-to-store, pure CO2. Drastically improves efficiency. And using your calculations, a cube of cubic meter would last about a week, so that's still reasonable.

What to do with all those saturated crystals? (1)

SilentBob0727 (974090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454236)

"Increasing global warming requires a bigger and bigger piece of ice each time. Thus solving the problem once and for all."
"But..."
"ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!"

If we take it out of the air... (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454264)

What impact is this going to have on the carbon cycle [wikipedia.org] ? There is a set amount of carbon and oxygen on the earth, if we take a bunch and store them in crystals, it would cause a deficit in our supply. While this solves a short term problem, the long term effects are going to come back and bite us in the ass a few generations down.

Re:If we take it out of the air... (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454950)

No. God no. Look up how many tons of carbon there are in the atmosphere, we're not gonna spend a fortune pointlessly and capture CO2 beyond what's necessary.

Please explain the math (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454268)

From the original article at UCLA [ucla.edu] "synthesized 25 ZIF crystal structures and demonstrated that three of them have high selectivity for capturing carbon dioxide (ZIF-68, ZIF-69, ZIF-70)."

Would someone please tell me how we extrapolate the CO2 capture from 3 crystal structures to an entire liter of crystals and can accurately predict an 83-to-1 capture ratio? The math is never that simple in real applications.

Re:Please explain the math (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454686)

Sweeeeet. ZIFs are normally synthesized using 2-methyl imidazole, a known animal carcinogen. The solvent used is generally DMF, a known teratogen. So we are going to make tons and tons of this stuff to capture CO2, and then all die of cancer, and our babies are all going to have birth defects.

This plan suxors.

Trees? (1, Funny)

smithju (1044126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454310)

Dont trees already do this, lol?

Selection (1)

HandsOnFire (1059486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22454530)

New Material Can Selectively Capture CO2

What if it goes on strike and chooses not to capture CO2?

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22454554)

First off, anyone have a citation for the article? I assume there is a peer reviewed article (they credited the photo from science), I've just been too lazy to go out and find it. I'm familiar with Yaghi's work, so I'm inclined to take him at his word that it works, but it still would be nice to read an actual scientific paper on the result.

Second off, CO2 selective storage has been a huge goal for many years. Not even for permanent storage, as the article seems to be talking, but gas seperation and filtration in industrial applications . . . there's a lot of call for CO2 selective separation. Lots of people working at it. Seems like these guys might have something.

I would say there there's lots of use for it from a climate perspective, but there are other ways it will be very useful.

good old brute force science (4, Insightful)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455010)

according to the article, they discovered these crystals after processing thousands of compounds, somewhat like the way Edison figured out a stable element for light bulbs, pretty cool stuff, would be even cooler if they could process the captured co2 and seperate it into o2 and carbon.

The next nuclear waste (1)

eagl (86459) | more than 6 years ago | (#22455036)

Does anyone see the possibility that the used crystals could become the next NIMBY rallying cry? Nobody wants nuclear waste in their state, and nobody is going to want to have CO2 waste storage nearby either. What do they plan on doing with these crystals when they're saturated? Can the CO2 be extracted and put somewhere permanently, and the crystals reused? Do the crystals hold CO2 permanently? If so, what to do with it?

The usual common-sense solutions like dropping it into a deep ocean subduction zone where they'll be folded into the earth's core will make a whole lot of sense, but the same irrational arguments against dropping nuke waste in there will still apply.

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