2009 R&D 100 Winner
Fossil fuels supply 85% of the energy used in the U.S. and roughly 90% of the greenhouse gases. Facing pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, power utilities and energy companies seek systems for CO2 control. The SIMTECHE CO2 Capture Process from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M., and SIMTECHE, Redding, Calif., provides low-cost CO2 separation and compression capable of removing 65% to 90% or more of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel power plants and other operations.
Based on a reversible reaction of CO2 and cold water, the process captures CO2, regenerates it at elevated pressures, and delivers it at pipeline pressures for commercial use or sequestration. The process pulls CO2 out of a flowing mixture of gases and traps individual CO2 molecules within tiny molecular cages made of water. The resulting ice-like compound is a crystalline solid called CO2 hydrate. Once separated from the gas stream, the CO2 hydrate crystals can be decomposed to regenerate CO2 gas at elevated pressures for sequestration or sale on the emerging CO2 market.
Process to pull CO2 from fossil fuel plants
Los Alamos National Laboratory