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Could the humble sea urchin hold the key to carbon capture?
Date:2/4/2013

School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials.

"However, the enzyme is inactive in acid conditions and since one of the products of the reaction is carbonic acid, this means the enzyme is only effective for a very short time and also makes the process very expensive. "The beauty of a Nickel catalyst is that it carries on working regardless of the pH and because of its magnetic properties it can be re-captured and re-used time and time again. It's also very cheap 1,000 times cheaper than the enzyme. And the by-product the carbonate is useful and not damaging to the environment.

"What our discovery offers is a real opportunity for industries such as power stations and chemical processing plants to capture all their waste CO2 before it ever reaches the atmosphere and store it as a safe, stable and useful product." Each year, humans emit on average 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 - around 45% of which remains in the atmosphere. Typically, a petrol-driven car will produce a ton of CO2 every 4,000 miles.

Calcium carbonate, or chalk, makes up around 4% of the Earth's crust and acts as a carbon reservoir, estimated to be equivalent to 1.5 million billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.

It is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, pearls, and eggshells and is a completely stable mineral, widely used in the building industry to make cement and other materials and also in hospitals to make plaster casts.

The process developed by the Newcastle team involves passing the waste gas directly from the chimney top, through a water column rich in Nickel nano-particles and recovering the solid calcium carbonate from the bottom.

Dr iller adds: "The capture and removal of CO2 from our atmosphere is one of the most pressing dilemmas of our time.

"Our process would not work in every situation it couldn't be fitted to the back of a car, for example but it is an effective, cheap solution that could be available world-wide to some
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Contact: Dr. Lidija iller
lidija.siller@ncl.ac.uk
44-019-122-27858
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

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