However, the EPA reported that emissions in 2004 were 23% above the 1990 levels, indicating that Ireland is a long way from meeting the target.
The most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned to provide power and heat for industries, transportation, homes and businesses. One way to reduce emissions is to capture carbon dioxide from the exhaust streams of industrial processes or cars before it is released into the atmosphere.
A new technology is being developed by Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) researchers, Professor Don MacElroy and Dr Damian Mooney from the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering and Dr Matthias Tacke and his research group from the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, which aims to capture carbon dioxide from exhaust streams. This inorganic membrane technology must be capable of separating and capturing carbon dioxide after combustion.
"To date no membranes have been developed to separate carbon dioxide at temperatures of greater than 400°C from combustion or other high temperature process gases," explains Professor MacElroy. "Our preliminary results show that ultra-thin nanoporous membranes can separate carbon dioxide from nitrogen at 600°C."
It is essential to separate carbon dioxide from other gases to facilitate economic storage after capture.
"The separation technique works on the basis of molecular size. The difficulty with separating carbon dioxide from nitrogen lies in the dimensions of the atoms within the molecules," says Professor MacElroy. "There is about 10% difference in size between them so it was a challenge for us to develop a membrane that is selective for carbon dioxide over nitrogen."
Research work carried out by Dr Laurence Cuffe as part of his postdoctoral programme involved developing a composite membrane on Vycor glass. The pore size of Vycor glass is too large so it must be chemically modified by coating it with an inorganic nanomembrane.
"The modification to the surface of the Vycor results in the formation of nanoporous plugs which are permeable to carbon dioxide but form a barrier to nitrogen," continues Professor MacElroy.
The preliminary results showed that these membranes exhibit selectivities for carbon dioxide over nitrogen of more than 36:1 in one case and 75:1 in another case at a working temperature of 600°C. Professor MacElroy explained that the group is now looking at other processes of modifying the glass which are more versatile.
After carbon dioxide is captured, it must then be stored long term or recycled. Oceans and forests act as natural carbon dioxide reservoirs but underground caverns, old gas wells and saline aquifers are also used. Statoil, for example, has undertaken a commercial project of capturing carbon dioxide from the Sleipner gas field in the Norwegian North Sea and storing it 1000 meters under the sea bed in a saline aquifer.
Professor MacElroy concludes that "Carbon dioxide could be recycled by returning it to an artificial carbon cycle. It is a valuable commodity and under appropriate processing conditions there is the possibility of converting it into low molecular weight chemical commodities or recycling it into methanol. Recycling captured carbon dioxide could well be part of the quest for renewable energy sources."
The CSCB is a collaboration in the chemical sciences between University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI). The centre was established in Dublin in December 2001 after being awarded €26 million by the Irish Government's Higher Education Authority Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).
Orla Donoghue | alfa
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy