A protein-filled cotton sheet can filter carbon emissions

A protein-filled cotton sheet can filter carbon emissions thumbnail

When you think about climate change-fighting technology your first thought might have been futuristic vehicles or shiny solar panels. Nevertheless, some of the most important pieces in eco-friendly tech are often overlooked.

One the most difficult problems to solve is how to deal with all the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel plants. There have been many ideas about how to sequester and capture carbon dioxide from the air and energy production. However, there are mixed reviews. The latest idea is that the solution could be as simple and straightforward as a piece of cotton cloth.

Using a cotton textile and an enzyme called Carbonic Anhydrase, which is found in the human body, Sonja Salmon and Jialong Shen from North Carolina State University created a piece that can capture and capture carbon dioxide emissions. Their findings were published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemical Engineering this month.

The material is wrapped in a roll and then placed inside a tube. It is almost like wet paper towels inside a glass funnel. The carbonic anhydrase converts carbon dioxide and water to bicarbonate as the gas leftover from fossil fuel production seeps into the bottom. The funnel then releases a mixture of bicarbonate and water, which can be used to make more energy or react with calcium to make limestone.

[Related: Tech to capture and reuse carbon is on the rise. But can it help the world reach its climate goals?]

” We chose cotton intentionally because it can carry a lot water and can spread out the water into a thin film,” Salmon, associate professor of textile engineering and chemistry at NC State, said. This allows the gas to interact or react very closely with the water .”

The material was able to capture 52.3 percent of carbon dioxide with a single filter, and 81.7 percent with a double layer, when air was pushed through the contraption at a rate of four liters per minute. Researchers still observed a high level performance even after five washes and five reusings of the fabric.

While some carbon capture technologies may use rarer materials or more complicated methods, the process for making cotton fabric is as old as time. We already produce and make a lot of cotton fabric, for both clothes and industrial purposes. This means that the supply chain that would create these filters is more or less already in place.

” The production rate is not a bottleneck,” Shen, a postdoctoral researcher in textiles, says. “That’s the main benefit over other types of materials.” There has been a lot of work done on carbon capture material. We can use existing textile manufacturing facilities to create new applications .”

for companies.

Capturing carbon out of the atmosphere won’t solve all our problems. We must drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and alter our energy consumption if we want to avoid the worst-case climate scenario. Salmon says that as carbon emissions rise, it is more important to consider all possible technologies. These simple solutions could be a small part of the puzzle and can help us make progress in protecting the planet, while we concentrate on more radical initiatives.

” We want energy. Our cell phones are our best friend. We all love driving our cars. She says that everyone loves hot showers. “Unless we’re all ready to give up on that right away. This is what we have to do. It is a situation where all technology must be used. It is not possible to save all technologies. We must do them all .”

Sara Kiley Watson

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