New study from North Carolina State University showed that 3D printing may be used to create carbon capture filters.
Scientists specifically created a hydrogel material capable of containing carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that quickens the conversion of CO2 and water into bicarbonate.
The study’s lead author Shen Jia-long, assistant research professor of textile engineering, chemistry, and science at NC State, said, “This manufacturing process, using 3D printing, makes everything faster and more precise. You can make this functional material if you have access to a printer and the raw materials.”
Scientists mixed a solution containing two different organic compounds — or the printing “ink”- and an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase. They then printed thread-like filaments of the hydrogel into a two-dimensional grid. Meanwhile, they solidify the solution with UV light as it was printed.
The effectiveness of the filter’s carbon collection was examined, and the scientists also evaluated the material’s characteristics to determine how well it would bend and twist. In a small-scale experiment, they discovered the filter caught 24% of the CO2 in a gas combination. The filter was less than 1 inch (2 centimeters) in diameter. Still, it could be made larger and in other modular shapes to stack them in a tall column, even though the capture rate is lower than what they’ve achieved in earlier designs. That might improve the effectiveness of the capture.
“In order to get a higher capture rate, we would need to make the filter larger in diameter or stack more filters on top of each other. We don’t think that’s an issue; this was an initial test at a small scale for ease of testing,” Shen said.
As for the durability of filtration, the material was found to achieve 52% of its initial carbon capture performance after more than 1,000 hours.
Study’s co- author Sonja Salmon, associate professor of textile engineering, chemistry, and science at NC State, said, “This work is still in the early stage, but our findings suggest there are new ways to make materials for carbon capture devices. We’re offering hope for carbon capture.”