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Volume 91 Issue 21 | p. 41 | Concentrates
Issue Date: May 27, 2013

Charged Boron Nitride Binds CO2

Computational study predicts that BN nanomaterials have electrically switchable carbon-capture properties
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE, Environmental SCENE, JACS In C&EN
Keywords: CO2, carbon dioxide, carbon capture, CO2 capture, boron nitride
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CAPTURE
Only when electrically charged, boron nitride nanosheets and nanotubes bind carbon dioxide.
Credit: Adapted From JACS
09121-scicon-carboncapturecxd
 
CAPTURE
Only when electrically charged, boron nitride nanosheets and nanotubes bind carbon dioxide.
Credit: Adapted From JACS

Industrial processes for CO2 capture use aqueous amine solutions or ammonia. But both of those methods are energy intensive and plagued with technical challenges including equipment corrosion. In search of alternatives, Aijun Du of Queensland University of Technology, in Australia, and coworkers examined the affinity of CO2 for BN nanosheets and nanotubes using density functional theory calculations. They found that injecting electrons into the BN materials causes CO2 to bind tightly and selectively. When the group removed the charge, CO2 was spontaneously released (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ja400243r). The injected electrons populate p-like orbitals located on the boron atoms, imparting a Lewis base character that attracts CO2, a Lewis acid. The switchable materials could be made into capacitors and used on smokestacks as reusable CO2-scrubbing cartridges, the team says, or used to separate mixtures produced in natural gas processing or biomass gasification.

 
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