According to a study by the Korea National Oceanic and Maritime University, scientists investigated the potential of a class of compounds called organic hydroquinone (HQ) clathrates to capture greenhouse gases (GHG). It is important to mention, these are two types of gases: carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), both causing climate change.
For context, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the greenhouse effect, produced by certain gases, is the warming that occurs when the atmosphere traps the heat that is radiated from the Earth into space. In this way, these compounds in the atmosphere block heat and do not allow its escape, causing global warming. When gases remain semi-permanently in that space and do not respond chemically to changes in temperature, they are the cause of climate change.
Returning to the study, experts consider it essential to use efficient techniques to separate and eliminate GHGs to slow global warming. Dr. Sol Geo Lim, author of the research, said that organic clathrates such as HQ are substances with a grid-like structure that allows them to trap other molecules. This structure is called a “host” and gases are “guests”, but HQs prefer different hosts based on the composition of the compound mixtures with which they interact.
For his part, Dr. Lim commented: “In our previous work, we demonstrated the effectiveness of these HQs for the recovery of CO2 and N2O individually. But capturing them simultaneously could be even more effective for the environment.” As a methodology, the research team exposed HQ to gas mixtures that had different compositions of CO2 and N2O, then conducted experiments to investigate interactions in clathrate. With this, the scientists discovered the final composition of CO2 and N2O in the HQ was the same as that of the initial mixture, which means the HQ did not prefer either of the two gases.
It would be pertinent to add, when there are two components united in two different phases, in this case solid and vapor, the mixture is called an azeotrope. According to the scientists, the result of their study they claim is the first report of an azeotropic clathrate HQ. In addition, Lim and his team observed: “The azeotrope formation can be attributed to the compelling similarity of the CO2 and N2O hosts in the HQs at headquarters.”
Ultimately, the researchers concluded, their discovery is valuable insight into host and guest interactions in clathrates and will help develop new GHG capture technologies. Well, with more studies like this, a new era of climate protection is expected to begin by specialists in the field.
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