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Neutrons—Capturing carbon in mid air

Using neutrons from the TOPAZ beamline, which is optimal for locating hydrogen atoms in materials, ORNL researchers observed a single-crystal neutron diffraction structure of the insoluble carbonate salt formed by absorption of carbon dioxide from the air. Credit: Radu Custelcean and Xiaoping Wang/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Topics: Neutron Science Advanced Materials

Researchers used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source to investigate the effectiveness of a novel crystallization method to capture carbon dioxide directly from the air. Previous studies have demonstrated the feasibility of using an aqueous solution that absorbs carbon dioxide and converts it into insoluble carbonate salt crystals. “Neutrons from the TOPAZ beamline, which is optimal for locating hydrogen atoms in materials, provided us with precise structural parameters and hydrogen bonding geometries in these crystals, helping us understand the factors determining the low solubility of the carbonate salt and the efficacy of the carbon dioxide capture,” said ORNL’s Radu Custelcean. Further development could provide a scalable eco-friendly path to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which can help mitigate climate change. The research was published in International Union of Crystallography Journal. The study also included X-ray electron density analysis performed at the University of Toledo.