As the search for an alternative to oil intensifies, science is producing some rather amazing advancements in the field of energy production and transportation. Scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University have developed a new polymer that can trap and sequester the harmful CO2 elements found in natural gas, while making the storage and transport of this cleaner, hotter-burning fuel much easier.
While this technology is still in the discovery stage, the potential of this groundbreaking development is quite huge. The team of scientists, led by Hani El-Kaderi, have developed an organic polymer called benzimidazole-linked polymers (or BILPs) that are covered in nano-engineered pores. When exposed to streams of natural gas, these BLIPs absorb and trap carbon dioxide, “purifying” the natural gas in an energy and cost efficient way.
The current method for purifying natural gas is nitrogen-based, and requires extreme heat to “purge” the CO2 during the scrubbing process. The BLIPs require a low-pressure treatment to divulge themselves of the CO2, and can then be reused. El-Kaderi see’s this new natural gas as a means of supporting a hydrogen economy, as this pure natural gas would be an excellent source of hydrogen as well. The Science Daily article seems to imply that this purified natural gas will be in a powder, detergent-like form…but I’m not sure if that is what it actually is, or just an analogy.
But the researchers do claim that this purified natural gas would occupy 40% less space thanks to the removal of CO2, and it would also burn cleaner and hotter, making it a much more desirable fuel for every application. While natural gas may not be the ideal solution for many environmentalists, I am of the opinion that any technology getting us away from oil is worth exploring.