EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, March 24, 1 p.m. Eastern Time
Relatives of ingredients in hair-conditioning shampoos and fabric softeners show promise as a long-sought material to fight global warming by “scrubbing” carbon dioxide (CO2 ) out of the flue gases from coal-burning electric power generating stations, scientists reported today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Their report, the first on use of these so-called aminosilicones in carbon dioxide capture, concluded that the material has the potential to remove 90 percent of CO2 from simulated flue gas. The new “scrubber” material may be less expensive and more efficient than current technologies for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main “greenhouse” gas linked to global warming, the scientists say.
Robert Perry, Ph.D., and colleagues pointed out that coal-burning electric power plants are a major source of the carbon dioxide that has been building up in Earth’s atmosphere. An estimated 2.8 billion tons of the gas enters the atmosphere each year from the 8,000 coal-fired power plants in the United States alone. Those are among 50,000 coal-fired generating stations worldwide. Perry cited a critical need for practical technology to remove carbon dioxide from flue gases before it enters the atmosphere. The new scrubber material would meet the goal of the U.S. Department of Energy, which funded the research, of developing carbon capture technologies with at least a 90 percent CO2 capture efficiency.