The capture of CO2 has been possible for some time, but always in ways that requires large quantities of energy. Now, doctoral students Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, superivised by Aldo Steinfeld, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have devised a novel apparatus that can separate CO2 from air in a more energy-efficient manner, before re-releasing it as a potential raw material.
The prototype uses concentrated solar energy from a metal-oxide redox system, also in development at ETH Zurich, for CO2 and water splitting, forming a syngas stream that could be converted into liquid fuels in later processes.
The system runs at below 100 °C, so the energy required can be supplied by conventional flat-plate solar collectors. And because the device can suck the CO2 directly out of the ambient air, it can – with respect to the necessary solar radiation – be applied independent of the location.
The first fully functional prototype is due to go into operation in a greenhouse facility near Zurich in 2012.