Sydney: A `solar sponge` could be a feasible way of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal fired power stations and then releasing the gas after exposure to sunlight, shows a research.
"This is an exciting development for carbon capture because concentrated solar energy can be used instead of further coal-based energy to drive the process," said Matthew Hill, who led the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) group conducting this research.
The CSIRO has utilised a new smart material called MOF (metal organic framework), to create the sponge, which absorbs as much as a litre of nitrogen gas in just one gram of material, the journal Angewandte Chemie reports.
This is possible because a single gram of MOF has the surface area of an entire football field, meaning that gases can be soaked up like a sponge to all of the internal surfaces within, according to a CSIRO statement.
"The capture and release process can be compared to soaking up water with a sponge and then wringing it out. When UV light hit the material its structure bends and twists and stored gas is released," said Hill, who was awarded a 2012 Eureka Prize for his MOF research.
Richelle Lyndon, also a Monash University student and study author, said: "The MOFs are impregnated with light-responsive azobenzene molecules which react to UV light and trigger the release of CO2.
"It is this reaction, and the material`s ability to bend and flex, which makes the material we have created so unique."