In what is a new twist, researchers are claiming that one of the ways to reduce CO2 emissions may be to produce pure carbon dioxide. The claim applies to factories that rely on fossil fuels. If pure CO2 is produced, then greenhouses gases – once isolated – could be captured and buried in the earth’s natural reservoirs. It’s believed that such a procedure will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from energy sources like coal and natural gas. This will help to minimize the contributions fossil fuels make to global warming. It’s important to note that the experiment doesn’t seek to find alternative means of energy but to continue to utilize fossil fuels without the need for large levels of pollution.
MIT researchers are in the process of testing a system that eliminates nitrogen from combustion and removes other byproducts like water to deliver a stream of pure carbon dioxide. The experiment is being conducted in a ceramic membrane that separates oxygen from air. Oxyfuel combustion, which involves burning fuel in pure oxygen, can deliver pure CO2. The oxygen-separating membrane is being tested in a small reactor. The researchers are also establishing parameters to test their findings under extreme conditions found inside conventional powerplants.
The researchers will present their study in the upcoming International Symposium on Combustion while the results will be featured in Journal of Membrane Sciences. According to team member Ahmed Ghoniem, the ceramic membrane technology could be a cheap way to sequester CO2 in powerplants.
Current methods to produce pure oxygen are expensive and consume large amounts of energy. With the ceramic membrane technology, the process can be made more affordable and simpler. It’s hoped that the new findings can be applied to new and existing powerplants in the near future. The team of researchers is now working to test the system at various temperatures, fuel conditions and pressures.