Friday, February 08, 2013

Capturing CO2 with Nickel

Sounds as if serendipity is alive and well..........but the concept works and is cheap and easy.  If it works well once scaled up then the implications are potentially major.......think of all the power stations around the world! 

British researchers have discovered that sea urchins use nickel particles on their exoskeletons to effectively capture CO2 and turn it into a solid form, an intriguing finding that could offer an inexpensive way to capture and store carbon from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Scientists from Newcastle University were studying how marine organisms absorb CO2 to make shells and skeletons when they discovered that sea urchin larvae have a high concentration of nickel on their exoskeletons, which helps them absorb CO2.  When the researchers added nickel nanoparticles to CO2-saturated water, they discovered that the nickel completely removed CO2 and turned it into calcium carbonate, a chalk-like mineral.

Current efforts to capture and store carbon dioxide from power plants involve either pumping it underground or using an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase to convert it to calcium carbonate.  But both methods are expensive, and the Newcastle researchers say that using nickel to capture and store CO2 bubbled through water could be a thousand times cheaper than employing carbonic anhydrase. “
It seems too good to be true, but it works,” said Lidija Siller, a physicist at Newcastle.
The research was published in Catalysis Science & Technology.

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