Scientists develop world’s first ‘porous liquid’ to capture, dissolve large amount of carbon emissions

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Mist in China
Buildings in construction are seen among mist during a hazy day in Rizhao, Shandong province, China, October 18, 2015. Reuters/

Scientists have created a new substance that could be applied in a massive range of new technologies to protect the environment, especially from increasing carbon levels that boosts climate change. The newly developed “porous liquid” was designed to capture and dissolve harmful gas before it enters the Earth's atmosphere.

Scientists from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland developed the substance with similar properties with porous rocks, which can hold and filter liquids. Porous liquid can collect and absorb gas through its pores that could open a new approach to collect and filter chemicals without the aid of solid materials, researchers say.

Porous liquid has been found to effectively dissolve large amounts of gas, which could greatly help in carbon capture. The substance alone traps carbon dioxide from major sources like fossil fuels and easily stores it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

Manufacturers and scientists would greatly benefit from the substance, researchers said. The findings of the three-year research project were published on Monday in the journal Nature.

“Materials which contain permanent holes, or pores, are technologically important,” Professor Stuart James, from Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, said in a press release. “They are used for manufacturing a range of products from plastic bottles to petrol.”

However, prior to the invention of the new substance, porous materials have been solids. The new liquid works better than solid porous as it contains empty holes that can “dissolve unusually large amounts of gas,” James said.  

However, further research is required to understand the applications of the liquid that could result in new or improved chemical processes. “These remarkable properties suggest interesting applications in the long term,” James stated.

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