Scientists have discovered that MXene and MBene compounds, which are some of the thinnest materials known, could potentially help in mitigating the effects of global warming. These two-dimensional substances have a large surface area, making them efficient in absorbing carbon dioxide molecules from the atmosphere, suggesting that they could play a role in reducing the harmful effects of climate change by safely capturing carbon dioxide.
In a recent paper published in the journal Chem, Professor Mihri Ozkan from the University of California, Riverside and her co-authors explored the potential of MXenes and MBenes in carbon capture technologies. Their research highlighted the attractiveness of these materials for large-scale applications due to their unique properties.
Professor Ozkan explained that MXenes and MBenes can be engineered to selectively capture carbon dioxide. They possess high selectivity towards carbon dioxide, which can be attributed to a process called interlayer distance engineering. Furthermore, these materials maintain their structural integrity even after multiple cycles of carbon capture and release, making them mechanically stable.
With human-induced carbon dioxide emissions increasing at an alarming rate, the development of carbon capture technologies has become essential. If left unaddressed, the planet’s temperature could rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the next decade, resulting in severe weather events, drought, crop failures, migration, and political instability. Thus, there is an urgent need to curb carbon emissions and combat climate change.
The discovery of MXenes and MBenes was made by scientists at Drexel University in the early 2010s. MXene is an inorganic compound composed of atomically thin layers of transition metal carbides, nitrides, or carbonitrides. On the other hand, MBenes are two-dimensional transition metal borides made from boron. These compounds can be produced through chemical etching techniques and have crystal lattices with repeating orthorhombic and hexagonal structures.
Professor Ozkan suggested that these materials can be combined with existing technologies, such as those developed by Swiss company Climeworks AG, which directly extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for safe and long-term storage.
Nevertheless, before MXenes and MBenes can be utilized in carbon capture devices, several technical challenges need to be addressed. These include scaling up production to tackle synthesis-related challenges, such as non-uniform mixing, temperature gradients, and heat transfer issues. However, these obstacles can be overcome through a top-down approach, either by scaling up wet etching methods or developing new ones.
The co-authors of the paper include researchers from the University of California, Riverside: Kathrine A.M. Quiros, Jordyn M. Watkins, Talyah M. Nelson, Navindra D. Singh, Mahbub Chowdhury, Thrayesh Namboodiri, Kamal R. Talluri, and Emma Yuan.
In conclusion, the potential of MXenes and MBenes in selectively capturing carbon dioxide presents an exciting opportunity in the fight against climate change. With further research and development, these two-dimensional materials could be harnessed to help reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the harmful effects of global warming.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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