Image via UCLA
Two scientists at UCLA seem to have made an exciting leap in carbon capturing technology--they've developed synthetic crystals that code information the same way DNA does. According to CleanTechnica, the result "is a sponge-like ability to trap gasses, along with a high degree of selectivity that in turn leads to highly efficient carbon capture." How efficient, you ask? The scientists claim they were able to achieve 400% improvement from current CO2 capture rates.From the UCLA statement:
"We created three-dimensional, synthetic DNA-like crystals," said UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor Omar M. Yaghi. "We have taken organic and inorganic units and combined them into a synthetic crystal which codes information in a DNA-like manner. It is by no means as sophisticated as DNA, but it is certainly new in chemistry and materials science." The discovery could lead to cleaner energy, including technology that factories and cars can use to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.
Cleantechnica points out that such advancements in carbon capturing are usually associated with clean coal technology, but not so with the DNA mimicking crystals. This tech could potentially be used to cheaply capture carbon from smaller sources of carbon emissions as well, like vehicle exhaust pipes or small factories. The scientists hope that it will also aide in more effectively converting the trapped CO2 into a fuel:
"What we think this will be important for is potentially getting to a viable carbon dioxide-capture material with ultra-high selectivity," said Yaghi. "I am optimistic that is within our reach. Potentially, we could create a material that can convert carbon dioxide into a fuel, or a material that can separate carbon dioxide with greater efficiency."The "designer crystals" that Yaghi and Deng have developed could do exactly that--and they could pave the way towards lower-cost, much more flexibly scalable applications. It could indeed be the case that we could see DNA-mimicking, synthetic crystals capturing carbon all over the place.
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