Graphene targets water treatment and carbon capture

Published in Chemistry World, 3 Oct 2013

Two independent groups of researchers have demonstrated graphene-based membranes that can separate gas molecules according to their size and shape. One of the membranes separates hydrogen from nitrogen and carbon dioxide, while the other membrane separates carbon dioxide from nitrogen, and could be used in carbon capture processes to curb greenhouse emissions.

Graphene is an atom thick layer of graphite made up of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons, like atomic-scale chicken wire. Since the material was first produced in 2004 – an achievement recognised by the 2010 Nobel prize for physics – scientists have discovered it has a host of superlative optical, electronic and mechanical properties. Another property which scientists have been interested in, however, is its permeability to gases. If graphene were permeable to different gas molecules, it could be used as a filter and, as it’s one atom thick, it could separate molecules very quickly. […]

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