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Carbon Capture

Cheap and Efficient Metal Nano-Particle Catalysis for Carbon Capture

Quote: KT121596-W

The Challenge

The Climate Change Act has set a target for the U.K. to reduce its carbon (CO2) emissions from 1990 levels by at least 80%, by 2050. A key technology to manage the change from a high to low carbon economy is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). To date the most mature technology for carbon capture is post combustion capture using amine solutions, although this faces a number of challenges such as:

• Low partial pressure of CO2 in flue streams causes difficulty in gas absorption to amine
• Oxygen content of gas can cause amine degradation
• CO2 degradation of amines
• Large quantity of energy needed for amine regeneration and CO2 separation

Added to this, CCS is proving to be prohibitively expensive and extremely difficult to implement. In recent years there have been a series of international, high profile CCS project closures such as Future Gen (USA) and In Salah (Algeria) as the difficulties of geological CO2 storage become apparent.

The Solution

A viable alternative to CCS is Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) where CO2 is either used commercially or as a feed stock for high value chemicals. Conversion of CO2 into mineral carbonates is an attractive method for CO2 storage as the end product is highly stable and can be commercially valuable. Inspired by the mechanism of sea urchin bone growth, researchers at Newcastle University discovered that nickel nanoparticles (NiNNPs) catalyse the hydration of CO2, the slowest step in the mineralization process.

Key Benefits

NiNNPs catalyse at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, and their activity is enhanced by light. They have been shown to be active in a broad temperature range from 10-60 °C. NiNNPs can increase the CO2 equilibrium concentration by threefold which enhances the capacity of CO2 mineralization to calcium carbonate (Figure 1).

Existing commercial catalytic systems using enzyme technology (e.g. carbonic anhydrase) are expensive and highly sensitive to temperature and pressure. NiNNPs are significantly cheaper, can run at significantly higher temperature and lower pH and can be recycled using magnetic separation or immobilized on supports in order to aid reusability. Typical cost of NiNNPs would be $7.90 per tonne of CO2 captured.

The Opportunity

Newcastle University is currently seeking industrial partners to develop and scale up the use of NiNNP catalysts for their specific application needs.

Current research programs are progressing on two fronts:

  • Optimisation of the mineralisation reactor system for the capture of CO2  from combustion flue gas
  • Assessment of catalytic operation of NiNNPs in varying conditions i.e. solvents, temperature and pressure

Intellectual Property

A GB patent application has been filed for this technology. The patent has entered the national phase and applications have been filed in a number of international territories.

Title: Carbon Capture
Application No: GB1208511.4         
Filing Date: 15/5/2012


Dr Tim Blackburn, Science, Agriculture & Engineering Enterprise Team, Research and Enterprise Services, Devonshire Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

Carbon Capture - technology for license
Figure 1. CO2 precipitation as CaCO3 in presence and absence of 30 ppm NiNNPs

Related Publications

1. Nickel nanoparticles catalyse reversible hydration of carbon dioxide for mineralization carbon capture and storage, Bhaduri, Gaurav A.; Siller, Lidija, CATALYSIS SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Volume: 3 Issue: 5 Pages: 1234-1239 Published: 2013

2. Reply to the 'Comment on "Nickel nanoparticles catalyse reversible hydration of carbon dioxide for mineralization carbon capture and storage"' by D. Britt, Catal. Sci. Technol., 2013, 3, DOI: 10.1039/C3CY00142C, Bhaduri, Gaurav A.; Henderson, Richard A.; Siller, Lidija, CATALYSIS SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Volume: 3 Issue: 9 Pages: 2197-2198 Published: 2013

3. Photochemical enhancement in catalytic activity of nickel nanoparticles for hydration of CO2
Bhaduri, Gaurav A, Muzaffar, Bilal; Alamiry, Mohammed A.H. , Yuan, Jian; Shangguan, Wenfeng; Šiller, L.idija; ChemistrySelect, Accepted. (DOI:10.1002/slct.201600317).

4. Nickel nanoparticles for enhancing carbon capture, G.A. Bhaduri, Gaurav A.; Alamiry, Mohammed A.H.; Šiller, Lidija,   JOURNAL OF NANOMATERIALS Volume 2015, Article No 581785 Published 2015