Energy

Scientists Say This ‘Sponge’ Could Stop Global Warming

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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Scientists have developed a sponge laden with baking soda they believe could combat the effects of global warming by capturing CO2.

Using a solution of silicone base, and sodium carbonate, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have been able to catch CO2 and make a byproduct of sodium bicarbonate- baking soda. They hope to take the CO2 sequestered in the sponge and inject it into large, underground geological features indefinitely, reports BBC News.

“You can think of it as a CO2 capture fabric,” Du Nguyen, an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), told the BBC. “What this is made of is a silicone material and inside of that are lots of little bits of sodium carbonate. You can almost think of it as a CO2 sponge.”

While the sponge idea is promising, it is also a slow process, because Scientists can only create a kilogram of the capsules per day. However, with the advent of 3D printing, researchers say they are no longer limited to the capsules alone.

The team at LLNL hope that this technology could be used for personal use as well as business. With hopes of installing the ‘sponge’ technology inside chimney and flues, they hope to capture tonnes of CO2 before it ever leaves your house. If viable on a large scale, this technology could be a game changer in a field that is otherwise as expensive as it is cumbersome.

The team at LLNL say this sponge technology could be as much as 40% cheaper than current capture methods, as well as less toxic to the environment. According to the MSDS on Dow’s website, Monoethanolamine, which is one of the capture methods used now, has a host of of hazards including: eye/skin burns, and can damage lungs, liver and kidneys even from acute exposure.

What isn’t discussed with this new technology, however, is what happens when an earthquake hits a region where CO2 has been injected underground. Would this massive expulsion of CO2 in a small area cause damage to the surrounding ecosystem? Have they thought of recapture methods if an earthquake, or some other underground disturbance, releases the captured CO2 back into the atmosphere?

While the research has produced good results so far, new questions will need to be answered before this sponge capture method can be given the go ahead on a large scale.

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