A recent study published in Science Advances suggests that a simple, economical and potentially reusable material could remove carbon dioxide from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants, thus preventing this greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere.
The team focused on aluminum formate.
At the microscopic scale, the structure of aluminum formate resembles a three-dimensional wire cage with numerous small holes.
These pores are large enough to allow carbon dioxide molecules to enter and be trapped, but the larger nitrogen molecules in the exhaust gas cannot pass through, so these pores have a better separation capability.
In addition, aluminum formate is made from aluminum hydroxide and formic acid, two chemicals that are cheap and readily available.
This low-cost advantage is also expected to allow aluminum formate to be used in a wide range of applications.