"Environment" research area

Leveraging Nano-Fluids to Improve Carbon-Capture Methods

Primary Investigator - Sam ToanPrimary InvestigatorSam Toan
Co-InvestigatorsRichard Davis, Weiguo Xie, and Ye Wu
Industry PartnersMinnesota Power
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar 

Problem: Over 80 percent of the world’s electricity is produced from fossil fuels, which account for 25 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. New carbon-capture methods are needed for energy production sites, like Minnesota Power’s Boswell Energy Center, to address climate change concerns and meet Minnesota’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Solution: Nano-fluids, or fluids that have nanometer sized particles added to them, are known for their ability to make chemical reactions occur more easily, faster, and with greater efficiency. Prior investigation of nano-fluids has demonstrated their ability to improve the ease and efficiency of CO2 absorption and desorption reactions, thereby offering reduced net energy consumption for carbon-capture methods, possibly to zero. The proposed work will evaluate the effectiveness and cost-reduction possibilities through the use of flue gas samples collected from a coal-burning power plant in Cohasset, Minnesota. The investigation will enhance understanding of the kinetic and thermodynamic principles of nano-fluid CO2 capture. 

Impact: The use of nano-fluids at the industrial-scale may be able to capture more CO2 and use less energy than traditional carbon-capture methods. Reducing energy requirements would also reduce the overall cost of implementing nano-fluid carbon-capture technologies. The proposed study could also lead to the use of nano-fluids to capture additional emission pollutants like SO2 and H2S.