UK researchers working to significantly reduce the cost of capturing air pollution from plants

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 4:47 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With the development of a novel acoustic-assisted process for capturing carbon dioxide, a team of researchers is hoping to reduce carbon emissions for coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities.

According to associate research scientist Bradley Irvin, by applying an acoustic signal into a special packaging material within a solvent capturing CO2, this can more efficiently capture more of the gases being vented out by these industries.

“Inside the packing material you have the solvent that’s going over the packs of the surface material, but now it has a traveling wave on top of it and that will increase surface area, and that will increase that rate of reaction, increase the amount of CO2 absorbed,” Irvin said.

So far in their studies this new process increases the CO2 absorption rate by up to 40% relative, which will greatly help these industrial facilities reduce their emissions more efficiently.

“It reduces cost for the industrial application, whether that be the power plant or the industry, and that’s a direct saving to the consumer as well,” Irvin said.

Along with this technology potentially decreasing that electric bill in the future, Irvin says it could also bring a big impact to our environment in a positive way.

“Reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, that would go a long way to beginning steps of reversing that effects of climate change. That in itself is a worthwhile goal,” Irvin said.

But what happens to the CO2 after it’s captured and stored? Irvin says while other teams are looking into solutions, there has already been progress with using CO2 for algae farming and much more.

“These guys have these huge racetracks of massive algae blooms and they feed the CO2 into there to help them breed and that could be used for feed stocks, for livestock. There are many different ways,” Irvin said.

While researches have put this process successfully to the test on different scales within their lab, they’re also working with the E.W. Brown Station power plant near Harrodsburg to apply this research in the real world as well.

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