TechOn at the Nikkei site in Japan reports that the huge internationally known firm Hitachi has developed a solid form carbon dioxide absorbent material and a new amine fluid CO2 absorber. (From here on we’re going to adsorption over absorption – adsorption refers to the transfer of a volume onto a surface, while absorption refers to a transfer of a volume into a volume.)

The new solid form material tops the current technology of using an amine fluid as a material for collecting CO2 in a chemical absorption technique.  The Hitachi amine fluid is said to save 30% in energy costs during the CO2 release phase.  Hitachi is planning to conduct a field test of the amine fluid technique in the aim of commercializing it.  Keep those energy requirements in mind as the comparison continues.

The newly developed solid adsorbent material is made using cerium oxide for collecting and accumulating carbon dioxide with the CO2 production from coal fired power generation stations foremost in mind.  Compared with zeolitic solid adsorbents, which are commercially available and commonly used for collecting CO2, the amount of CO2 adsorbed by the new material is about 13 times larger, according to Hitachi.

A problem is the traditional solid adsorbent materials preferentially adsorb the moisture that exists in exhaust gas streams, making it difficult to efficiently separate the CO2. The cerium oxide employed for the new solid adsorbent material can efficiently adsorb CO2 even when there is moisture.

Next Hitachi has increased the number of adsorption sites of the new adsorbent material by using its exhaust purification catalyst technologies so that more CO2 can be adsorbed. Specifically, to increase adsorption efficiency, a second component that attracts CO2 was added to the surface of the adsorbent material.

This is all constructed by a development using a template method for forming pillar-shaped fine pores on cerium oxide that are regular hollow structures. As a result, CO2 molecules are dispersed inside the fine pores and more likely to contact with the adsorption sites.

The amine fluid is up for conducting a field test of the technique in the aim of commercializing it.  But the chemical absorption technique using the amine fluid requires energy for reheating a liquid containing CO2 with vapor from a steam turbine and separating system for collecting the CO2.

That creates a demand to reduce the energy required for collecting CO2.  Hitachi is developing a collection technique using the solid material that has a low specific heat and enables reducing the amount of steam vapor.

To date, the report out of the Nikkei says the new method using the solid adsorbent material requires an amount of energy equivalent to that required by the chemical absorption technique using the amine fluid.  Hitachi plans to further reduce the required amount of energy by 20% or more by improving the solid adsorbent material and building an optimal system in the aim of commercializing the new material in or after 2025.

Hitachi Process Flow Graph of New Flue Gas Treatment. Click image for the largest view.

Hitachi is getting set up with the amine fluid.  A few days ago Hitachi announced it has signed a license agreement with Solios Environment Inc. to design and supply Enhanced All-Dry (EAD) Scrubber technology, jointly developed with Solios Environment Inc, for the global electric utility market.

Solios’ EAD Scrubber technology is the original circulating semi-dry scrubber technology developed by Solios in the 1980s that has been widely applied in industrial sectors.  The EAD kit effectively removes SO2 as well as SO3, HCl, mercury and particulate matter from flue gas.  The EAD Scrubber technology has the additional advantages of low capital cost, low water consumption and dry byproducts, avoiding costly waste water treatment.  Hitachi’s role is applying the EAD Scrubber technology with a modular approach that allows unlimited scrubber capacity, virtually unlimited turndown, and enhanced system layout flexibility.

This sets the company out in front for introducing the amine fluid CO2 capture technology.

CO2 is very useful beyond being plant food for plants to grow what animals and people need to eat.  But the stuff is quite problematic to process.  Catching CO2 isn’t so hard as its happily reactive; it’s the separation and collection that pose the problems. Keeping CO2 isolated and recapturing is a dream of industry and environmentalists for very different reasons.

Whether one sees gold or global disaster, CO2 is a single carbon atom with a couple oxygen atoms hanging on in gas form.  It’s a great resource for making food and fuel.

Hitachi gets us closer to practical capture and recycling, but there is still a large gap to close for synthetically recycling CO2 into useful foods and fuels.


2 Comments so far

  1. Benjamin Cole on April 4, 2012 1:31 PM

    “Hitachi plans to further reduce the required amount of energy by 20% or more by improving the solid adsorbent material and building an optimal system in the aim of commercializing the new material in or after 2025.’

    What? They are planning an introduction 13 years out, minimum?

    No one in business plans like that. Really? Why not 2030?

    You might as well say, “We are so far from commercializing this we don’t know when or if we can bring it to market. And the market may have radically changed by then.”

    BTW, that is the kind of release the LENR guys should put out, except even more circumspect.

  2. Alfred Holzheu on April 5, 2012 5:54 PM

    In the wake of the EPA classifying that CO2 is a harmful gas, I propose that we take steps to sequester CO2 from one of the most abundant source on the planet, namely oxygen breathing mammals (including humans). It would be simple matter of creating a disposable mask that all mammals could wear that would combine with the CO2 in the exhalation and store it as inorganic calcium carbonate. It could also be coupled with a dye that would let people know when it was full and to discard it properly so that it could be buried forever. I think these PCC (Personal Carbon Catchers, though it could also be called a PCSD or a “Personal Carbon Sequestration Device”) would qualify for a carbon credit, that might go along way toward paying for the masks. Can you imagine the quantity of CO2 that would be drawn out of the atmosphere if all mammals could do their part to control CO2 emissions. It boggles the mind.

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