Energy-efficient capture of CO2 from power-plant flue gas is one of the grand challenges to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Current CO2-capture technologies are limited by parasitic energy loss, inefficient capture, and unfavorable process economics. We present a novel electrochemical method for CO2 capture from coal-fired power-plant flue gas. The method utilizes in-situ electrochemical pH control with a resin wafer electrodeionization (RW-EDI) device that continuously shifts the pH of the process fluid between basic and acidic in sequential chambers (pH swing). This pH swing enables capture of CO2 from flue gas in the basic chamber followed by release (recovery) of the captured CO2 (purified) in the acidic chamber of the same device. The approach is based on the sensitivity of the thermodynamic equilibrium of CO2 hydration/dehydration reactions over a narrow pH range. The method enables simultaneous absorption (capture) of CO2 from flue gas and desorption (release) at atmospheric pressure without heating, vacuum, or consumptive chemical usage. In other words, the method concentrates CO2 from ∼15% in flue gas to >98% in the recovery stream. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first experimental study focusing on simultaneous capture and release (recovery) of CO2 using an electrochemical method. We describe the method, the role of operating parameters on CO2 recovery, and advancements in process design and engineering for improved efficiency. We report on a method to enhance gas/liquid mixing inside the RW-EDI, which significantly increased CO2 capture rates. We also discuss the importance of using an enzyme/catalyst in enhancing the reaction kinetics. CO2 capture was observed to be a strong function of gas and liquid flow rates and applied electrical field. Up to 80% of the CO2 was captured from a simulated flue gas stream with >98% purity. The results indicate that a narrow pH swing from 8 to 6 (near-neutral pH) could offer a viable pathway for energy-efficient CO2 capture if the reaction kinetics are enhanced. Carbonic anhydrase enzyme enhances the reaction kinetics at near-neutral pH; however, the enzyme lost activity due to the instability at the operating conditions. This observation highlighted the necessity of robust enzymes/catalysts to enhance kinetics of CO2 recovery near-neutral pH.

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Energy Efficiency
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Energy Efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is lauded as a promising way reduce emissions and lower energy costs. Yet, a robust body of research demonstrates that not all efficiency investments deliver. EPIC faculty...