Nanotechnology research could reduce CO2 pollution from gas

11 October 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

The process of producing natural gas could become more environmentally-friendly through a new breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology.

Researchers in the US have worked with graphene membranes in a bid to reduce levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution in the field.

The specialists from the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that graphene membranes can be used to separate gas molecules by acting as sieves.

Tiny pores in the atomically-thin membranes provide effective separation of molecules and the findings have been reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

Members of the university's engineering faculty have produced the first experimental results in the field and claim they are "a significant step toward the realization of more energy-efficient membranes for natural gas production and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plant exhaust pipes".

The nanoscale pores were made in graphene sheets using a process of ultraviolet light-induced oxidative “;etching", with experiments carried out using a range of gases, including CO2.

Professor Scott Bunch, Co-author of the research, stated that graphene offered the ideal resource to carry out the work as it is "the thinnest and strongest material in the world, as well as being impermeable to all standard gases".

The team is now looking at ways of scaling the technology up to produce sheets on an industrial scale and producing precisely defined nanopores.

As the global oil and gas industry continues to embrace breakthroughs in the field of nanotechnology, a new agreement has been announced between DuPont Power Coatings Andina and Industrial Nanotech.

Under the terms of the distribution agreement, DuPont will become a distributor in Columbia and Venezuela for Nansulate products, which are designed specifically for the sector to prevent corrosion and provide thermal insulation for pipes, tanks and other equipment.

Francesca Crodley, Industrial Nanotech Vice-President of Business Development, predicted the experience and knowledge DuPont brings to the agreement "will greatly benefit the growth of our products in this region, as well as offer the opportunity for their company to supply leading edge sustainable technology to their customers"

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