November 27, 2021

Molecular Sponges Developed to Absorb Greenhouse Gases

Molecular Sponges to Absorb Greenhouse Gases

Molecular Sponges to Absorb Greenhouse Gases

Almost every home has a kitchen sponge to soak up spills and tidy up. A similar concept is behind a chemical compound being developed by Australian researchers to soak up unwanted greenhouse gases.

Deanna D’Alessandra, lead researcher at Sydney University, along with her team, is developing crystal “molecular sponges” which, much like a regular sponge, will contain countless minuscule holes that will absorb and retain carbon gases such as carbon dioxide.

The chemical framework of these synthetic sponges will contain so many holes that that the surface area used to absorb gases will be far greater than the size that is visible by the naked eye. To give a rough approximation of this, Deanna explained that with so many holes, the molecular sponges provide an incredible amount of surface area. “So, if you took a teaspoon of one of the best materials we have at the moment,” she said, “it would actually have a surface area of about a rugby field”.

Although not yet viable for commercial use, Deanna is confident that these “sponges” are more robust than their predecessors. This should enable them to be used in power stations where large volumes of carbon gases are produced. She added that the sponges are resistant to high temperatures, a requirement for use in power stations.

Another important feature of the molecular sponges is that their absorbing action can be reversed, allowing them, under certain conditions, to release the gases.