Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary option for reducing climate impacts from fossil fuels over the next several decades. One of the most promising technologies for removing CO2 from power plant emissions is amine-based absorption technology. However, amine-based capture is energy-intensive, necessitating increased fossil fuel consumption to achieve the same power output, and reaction of NOx in power plant exhaust with amines forms highly carcinogenic nitrosamines and nitramines, which pose great threats to downstream drinking water supplies.

By combining experimental chemistry and computational optimization in a novel way, this project will develop techniques to improve the energy efficiency of capture while simultaneously reducing carcinogen formation. More specifically, the researchers plan to develop a computational platform that can be used by governments and CO2 capture vendors to explore the trade-offs in energy efficiency and impacts to drinking water supplies for different process designs. The project also will provide a rigorous experimental evaluation of concrete, actionable steps that might be taken at capture facilities to reduce energy use and carcinogen formation.