Engineers forge ‘exceptional’ foam for large-scale carbon capture

9 Dec 2019

Image: © Anney/

Swedish scientists have developed what they said is a sustainable, affordable carbon capture technology to tackle the climate crisis.

While there is much debate over how reliant we should be on carbon capture technology versus simply reducing our emissions, the technology behind it is attracting a lot of attention from researchers. Notably, the materials and processes involved in carbon capture, so far, have been associated with significant negative side effects and high costs.

Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Stockholm University in Sweden said they have developed a new carbon capture material that is not only sustainable, but also has a high CO2 capture rate and low operating costs.

Publishing their findings in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, the researchers described a new bio-based hybrid foam infused with a high amount of CO2-absorbing ‘zeolites’. This microporous aluminosilicate material has promising properties, they said, as the porous, open structure gives it a great ability to absorb CO2.

They combined the zeolites with gelatine and cellulose to create a durable, lightweight, stable material with a high reusability. The work is also expected to point the way towards future developments in carbon capture and storage (CCS).

‘When we reached 90pc by weight, we realised that we had achieved something exceptional’

Existing CCS technology uses ‘amines’ suspended in a solution. This comes with several problems as amines are environmentally unfriendly, require large volumes of the material, and quickly erodes pipes and tanks. Additionally, a lot of energy is required to separate the CO2 from the amine solution for reuse.

“What surprised us most was that it was possible to fill the foam with such a high proportion of zeolites. When we reached 90pc by weight, we realised that we had achieved something exceptional,” said researcher Walter Rosas Arbelaez.

“We see our results as a very interesting piece of the puzzle in the search for a solution to the complex challenge of being able to reduce the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere quickly enough to meet climate goals.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic