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An effective air–liquid contactor for CO2 direct air capture using aqueous solvents

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Separation and Purification Technology
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The development of a cost-effective, corrosion resistant, high-flux direct air capture (HiDAC) contactor for a solvent-based direct air capture (DAC) process is reported. Literature technoeconomic analyses suggest that the air–liquid contactor can cost over 20 % of the overall DAC plant’s annualized capital costs. To bring down the overall cost of DAC, it is imperative that an effective contactor is developed. A hybrid contactor consisting of a commercial polyvinylchloride structured packing enhanced with stainless-steel 410 random packing has been developed to provide a high surface area for air–liquid contact. The contactor geometry, wettability, corrosion resistance, pressure drop, along with its CO₂ uptake efficiency, CO₂ uptake rates, and extended loading potential using potassium sarcosinate solutions are investigated. Results show that the HiDAC contactor has a relatively high specific surface area (885 m2/m3), which allows for CO₂ uptake efficiencies of up to 75 % and capture rates of up to 550 g of CO₂ per day for a 0.3 × 0.25 × 0.3 m contactor. The contactor also exhibits high levels of wettability and corrosion resistance with amino acid-based DAC solvents. A CO₂ uptake model was developed, and modeling results are compared to experimental data to simulate and predict the performance of the contactor in a DAC process using potassium sarcosinate solvent. The system’s overall mass transfer coefficient and theoretical pressure drop were also calculated, and these results were compared to DAC data found in literature. The results presented indicate that the HiDAC contactor is well suited for DAC due to its high specific surface area, resistance to corrosion, and high degree of wettability.