- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
ScienceShot: A Smokestack's Hidden Treasure
23 July 2013 12:00 pm
The CO2-ridden plumes rising from industrial smokestacks and power plants may be warming the planet, but they could also be a new source of electrical power. Researchers have developed a two-stage process to harvest some of the chemical energy in carbon dioxide emissions, using a device called a capacitive electrochemical cell. Built roughly like a battery, the cell has two electrodes—one surrounded by a membrane that allows hydrogen ions to flow in and out, and the other that does the same with bicarbonate ions, produced when carbon dioxide is bubbled through water. In the first stage of the process, researchers pump water flushed with carbon dioxide through the cell, which causes the hydrogen and carbonate ions to flow into their respective electrodes—a separation of ions that charges the cell and can drive an electrical current. (In a full-scale system, carbon dioxide will be pulled from smokestacks, whose emissions typically include between 5% and 20% of the greenhouse gas.) Once the electrodes have absorbed as many ions as they can, the researchers then begin to pump air-bubbled water through the cell—a process that drives the ions out of the electrodes and back into the cell. By constantly alternating between these two stages, the cell can produce electrical power, the team reports online today in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. By tapping into existing carbon dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, industrial smokestacks, and residential heating worldwide, the new process could generate about 1570 terawatt-hours of power each year—about 400 times that produced by Hoover Dam, all without adding to global carbon dioxide emissions