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Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a new technology to capture carbon dioxide from a stream of air, virtually at any concentration level. While most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas required higher concentrations such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants, the new method could take out the gas even when it was present in very low concentrations. The device is a large, specialized battery with a stack of electrodes that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air passing over its surface as it was being charged up, and then released the gas as it was being discharged. A chemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes as the battery charges. Electrodes are coated with a compound called polyanthraquinone compounded with carbon nanotubes. The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily reacted with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas. The device operates at room temperature and normal air pressure. The advantage of this technology over other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent's affinity to carbon dioxide. The new system is energy efficient compared to existing methods -- consistently using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured. This advance that may pave the way for new strategies to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.

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