A new material which prevents plastic from ageing will create huge environmental and cost savings for the energy industry.
This “botox for plastic” developed by Australia’s science organisation, the CSIRO, can clean up exhaust gases from power plants more effectively .
Currently industry separates raw materials such as gases, liquids and solids in a process which accounts for 40% of the world’s energy use each year.
Dr Sam Lau says the new technique will make the separation process a staggering 50 times faster.
“At the moment power generators rely on plastic linings made up of tiny holes just one nanometre wide, a tiny fraction of a width of a human hair,” Dr Lau said.
“For decades scientists have been trying to improve the efficiency of this process by using plastics with larger holes. However, these larger openings tend to age very quickly and collapse within a matter of days.
“What we’ve done is make use of incredible compact materials known as Metallic Organic Frameworks – or MOFs – which have the surface area of a football field in just one gram.
“We found that the density of the MOFs acts like a shot of botox and actually freezes the larger holey structures in place for an entire year.”
This is a more environmentally friendly approach and translates into huge cost and efficiency savings.
According to Dr Lau, not only does the technique have incredible potential for cleaning up exhaust gases from power plants, it could also be used to enhance the purity of natural gas streams, the separation of water from alcohols (a key process in biofuel synthesis) and for dye removal in the textile industry.
“We’re extremely excited by this discovery and hope to see it being applied commercially within one to two years,” he said.
The results of the research are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
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