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Spruce cones could scrub carbon emissions as effectively as costly chemicals

A new material to capture carbon dioxide comes from a surprising green source: spruce cones. And, as scientists report in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, it performs just as well as other solid carbon-scrubbing materials.

Many experts believe that trapping carbon dioxide at their source—be it car exhaust pipes or industrial smokestacks—and stashing it underground will be important to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

The benchmark technology for absorbing carbon is to use solutions of ammonia-derived compounds. But this method is much too expensive to be used on a large-scale. Various other engineered materials that are excellent at removing carbon face similar issues: they’re costly, difficult to make, or come from petroleum sources.

So a team of researchers led by Zhengxiao Guo, a chemistry professor at University College London, set out to make a low-cost, abundant, and renewable carbon sorbent from biomass waste. Others have made porous carbon materials from biowastes such as palm shells and leaves. But Guo and his colleagues turned to spruce cones.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016