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Unique polymer soaks up CO2


August 11, 2014

An illustration shows how the polymer could clean up smokestack emissions – although its real value might lie in helping to usher in hydrogen power

An illustration shows how the polymer could clean up smokestack emissions – although its real value might lie in helping to usher in hydrogen power

Hydrogen may hold promise as an alternative to fossil fuels, but there's still a huge petrol-producing infrastructure in place, and not many service stations offer hydrogen refills yet. That's why some scientists are exploring a bridging technology known as the integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) process, for converting fossil fuels into hydrogen. Along with hydrogen, though, carbon dioxide is also a byproduct of the IGCC process, which must be dealt with. Fortunately, scientists from the University of Liverpool have developed a polymer that soaks up that CO2 for use in other applications.

The adsorbent organic polymer is described as being brown and sand-like, and consists of a linked network of carbon-based molecules. Its creation was inspired by polystyrene, which is able to adsorb small amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The new polymer likewise adsorbs CO2 but does so much more effectively, swelling up to contain the carbon dioxide in "micropores" between its molecules.

This swelling/adsorbing action takes place when the material is exposed to high-pressure environments, such as would be experienced in the IGCC process. When the pressure subsequently drops to normal levels, however, the polymer releases the CO2. The gas could then be harvested for use in carbon-based chemical products.

Along with its application in IGCC, the polymer could conceivably also be used to help "scrub" carbon dioxide from smokestack emissions. While other materials are already used for this purpose, the polymer should be particularly well-suited to it. This is largely because unlike some of those other materials, it doesn't adsorb water vapor. Doing so would clog its pores, thus making it less effective.

It's also said to be relatively inexpensive to produce, plus it's very robust – it's reportedly able to retain its functionality after being "boiled in acid."

The researchers' findings were presented today in San Francisco, at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Source: ACS

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I can see the value in it if it is a cheaper way to capture C02 for use. But it is not going to do anything about global warming because it is not caused buy C02.


No, it is indeed not caused by C02, but by CO2. :)

If you want to see the greenhouse effect in action, look at Venus or Mars (or the lack of for the latter).

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

test in China, Mexico City & LA CA alone Awesome

Stephen Russell

now if they could trap Methane in this fashion...

Michiel Mitchell

And I've not heard or read of even ONE actual experiment being done to try to replicate what supposedly happens to CFCs in the upper atmosphere either!. No one that I have hear of has built a small test chamber and put some R12 in it, and then made the gas dissociate by exposing it to UV light. From what I know, it's ALL conjecture and suppositions that Chlorine gas interferes with the formation of Ozone. I read one report where some gal made a HUGE jump from one or two facts to an unconnected conclusion! Talk about a kangaroo court! We need real science being done on these subjects, not a bunch of voodoo incantations and piercing screams. And has anyone put a radiometer or some other kind of IR detector in a test cell to see if CO2 actually blocks IR radiation? If I didn't have to be so concerned with putting food on our table, I'd buy some hardware and make some tests on my own!


Expanded Viewpoint

@ Fretting Freddy I've dated myself I learned to type on a typewriter and use the zero key for the uppercase oh. Venus, Mars, and lets add Jupiter as all three showed warming from the late 1970s to the late 1990s like it was caused by the sun especially sense as far as we can tell the heating was exactly proportional to the Earths warming.

@ Expanded Viewpoint C02 does absorb some frequencies of infrared light but the first 200ppm in the atmosphere absorb over 90% of all the energy that C02 can absorb making the energy absorbed by the increased C02 levels statistically meaningless.


@Slowburn Yes, heating is caused by the sun, but the earth usually reflected a lot of that heat back into the universe. Unfortunately mankind has now pumped so many greenhouse gasses, Co2 being one of them, out into the atmosphere, that it now traps a great deal of the reflected heat. This is the reason for the name Greenhouse gas, this is how climate change has been made by mankind, and this is what the scientists used to call global warming, until nabtards like the right wing US politicians, the coal industry and Fox networks retarded that word... And muddled the whole subject.

Atmospheric Co2 is a cause for heat retention of the earth, and mankind is the reason for an incredible increase in atmospheric Co2.

I'm saying this, because you seem to suggest that climate change is caused solely by the sun, and I do hope you realize that saying that, is a talking point of said right wingers, and it's only about 3% of the worlds scientists that do agree to this, so no contention in the world of academia, since those 3% are largely payed by the coal industry. Besides their data has been proven wrong.


CO2 before the 20th century was a trace gas making up less than a percentage of a percent of the total air composition. After the 20th century CO2 is a trace gas making up less than a percentage of a percent of the total air composition. In other words, it was insignificant before and it is still insignificant today.

Man made CO2 has increased exponentially in the last 17 years while during that same time global warming has paused and actually decreased a bit. If you plot CO2 against the global temperature variation, its a very very poor correlation. What does correlate very well with global temp variation is solar fluctuations of activity. People who study the Sun and not CO2, they are predicting a good chance of global cooling such as a mini ice age.

As far as "extreme weather", droughts, flooding, hurricanes, etc? All of those are actually statistically in decline.

Rann Xeroxx

@ Foiled If it is added green house gasses causing the heating why do Venus, Mars, and Jupiter show heating proportionally identical to earth.

That 97% of scientists number you referred to is a lie as well.


An excellent resource for evaluating claims about Climate Change and Global Warming is http://skepticalscience.com They address and keep current reasoned, science based responses to specific denialist claims (like the Venus comparison, the sun's impact or historical correlations) and provide references to key papers. Spending an hour or two reading up on just some of those should convince most anyone not bound by ideology that the evidence for man made climate change is simply overwhelming. One manifestation of that is that denialists have almost no scientific papers to back up their positions. The other side has massive data and analyses from many different sources, disciplines, and countries that essentially come to the same global conclusions.


@ moreover 31,000 American scientists including 9,000 with PhDs have signed a petition that states: We urge the united States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advancement of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other Greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in Atmospheric Carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth. http://www.petitionproject.org/


@Slowburn anyone can add their name to that site and just check off that they have PhD. So you still have that pesky mountain of scientific evidence and scientist (with real degrees) that says AGW is real versus a bunch of people who say they have a PhD with studies they refuse to release for peer review.

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