The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have designed and additively manufactured a first-of-its-kind aluminium device that enhances the capture of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel plants and other industrial processes.
Solutions for reducing global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as CO2 address the continued use of low-cost, domestic fossil fuel resources while mitigating potential climate impacts.
ORNL’s device focuses on a key challenge in conventional absorption of carbon using solvents: The process typically produces heat that can limit its overall efficiency. By using additive manufacturing, researchers were able to custom design a multifunctional device that greatly improves the process efficiency by removing excess heat while keeping costs low.
Absorption, one of the most commonly used and economical methods for capturing CO2, places a flue-gas stream from smokestacks in contact with a solvent, such as monoethanolamine, known as MEA, or other amine solutions, that can react with the gas.
Additive manufacturing made it possible to have a heat exchanger within the column, as part of the packing elements, without disturbing the geometry, thus maximising the contact surface area between the gas and liquid streams.