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Japanese Researchers Create Membrane that Traps Greenhouse Gas

Sep 04, 2014 09:45 AM EDT
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Researchers from Japan have created a membrane that can catch greenhouse gases. The team believes that their invention can, one day, rid us of air pollution.

Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) researcher Easan Sivaniah teamed up with scientists from the University of Cambridge to make an advanced material that can separate different greenhouse gases.

Thermal power plants along with automobiles are the main sources of greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat and so, are the main drivers of global warming. Countries around the world are trying to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The membrane PIM-1, is "typically embedded with a network of channels and cavities less than 2 nm in diameter that can trap gases of interest once they enter," said Qilei Song, who was involved in the study, according to a news release. "The only problem is that their intrinsic properties make them rather flimsy and their starting selectivity is weak."

The researchers used thermal oxidation to strengthen the membrane. The team heated PIM-1 at temperatures ranging from 120 to 450 °C.

"Oxygen, under high temperatures, chemically reacts with PIM-1 to reinforce the strength of channels while controlling the size of so-called gate openings leading into the cavities, which allows for higher selectivity," said Song in a news release.

The resultant polymer trapped more carbon dioxide than commercially available alternatives. The team said that the polymer can also be used in combustion engines, hydrogen gas production and even in plastic processing industries.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Other researchers are trying to develop adsorbent sponges that can soak up the carbon dioxide from air. University of Liverpool, Britain, scientists had recently reported that they have found microporous organic polymer that is stable and can remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. 

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