Scientists at the University of Texas, working in partnership with Exxon Mobil Corporation, have created a revolutionary new way to store carbon dioxide, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).
What’s new: The process involves quickly forming crystal structures, called hydrates, that permanently trap carbon dioxide. This new form of carbon capture is capable of forming those structures in as little as one minute. That speed is radically faster than any prior attempt on record.
Why it matters: A process that can create hydrates quickly could be used to store billions of tons of carbon dioxide under the ocean in a way that is safe, secure and cost-effective.
How it works: “Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin found that adding magnesium to the reaction that creates hydrates, structures that trap CO2 molecules, accelerates the reaction by 3,000 times its normal speed. They slashed the reaction time from hours or days to under a minute.”
Added benefits: Using magnesium to speed up the reaction is also much safer and cheaper than the alternatives. Ordinarily, hurrying the reaction along might involve using chemicals like tetrahydrofuran, which might raise unintended environmental tradeoffs. This new process avoids those chemicals while also requiring no additional energy to be added, which reduces the cost of the operation as well.
What we’re saying: “When science and manufacturing ingenuity partner, we accomplish what the naysayers claimed was impossible,” said NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones. “Investments in carbon capture are paying off, and we need policymakers to partner with us to continue to scale up this essential tool for industrial decarbonization.