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North East-developed tech to cut greenhouse emissions

Date 22 Aug 2007

Greenhouse gas emissions from power stations could be cut to almost zero thanks to a process developed by engineers at Newcastle University. The new process has been developed and tested in the laboratory by Professor Ian Metcalfe, Dr Alan Thursfield and colleagues in the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials at Newcastle University, in collaboration with Dr Kang Li in the Chemical Engineering Department at Imperial College London.

The process is designed to control the combustion process with tiny tubes made from an advanced ceramic material, reducing the output of harmful gases. The material, known as LSCF, has the property of being able to filter oxygen out of the air. By burning fuel in pure oxygen, it is possible to produce a stream of almost pure carbon dioxide, which can be reprocessed into useful chemicals. Engineers at Newcastle University, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have developed LSCF for potential use in reducing emissions for gas-fired power stations and possibly coal and oil-fired electricity generation as well.

Professor Metcalfe said: "The cheapest way to dispose of waste carbon dioxide from combustion is to release it into the atmosphere. We have been doing this since humans first discovered how to make fire. "The technology we have developed may provide a viable alternative, although whether it is economical to introduce it will depend largely upon the carbon credit system that Governments operate in the future."

LSCF is a relatively new material and over the past ten years or so been the subject of research in many countries, particularly the USA, mainly into its potential use as a cathode in fuel cells.

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