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
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.09.2017 | Life Sciences
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy