An EU nanotechnology initiative aims to capture power plant emissions using nanotech. From the Nanoglowa website:

About one third of the European CO2 emissions is coming from fossil fired power plants. Every year Europe blows more then 1 gigaton CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to increasing temperatures around the globe.

It is possible to store CO2 underground. Feasibility studies and demonstration projects on distinctive continents are currently being carried out to prove the viability of CO2 storage in empty gas fields and aquifers amongst others. Storage of CO2 coming from power plants requires capture and separation as predessesing process. The flue gasses of fossil fired power plants mainly consist of nitrogen, water and dust particles after all, next to the CO2.

CO2 capture and separation is not a simple process. The most currently used technology is via absorption. The flue gasses flow through several baths in which the CO2 is bound with amines. This ‘scrubbing’ technology consumes a lot of energy and is therefore not very cost effective. Besides for treating power plants flue gasses with scrubbers, huge installations are needed.
The application of nanostructured membranes for CO2 capture and separation brings down the energy penalty and installation demands substantially.

NANOGLOWA brings together universities, power plant operators, industry and SMEs. 26 organisations from 14 countries throughout Europe join the NANOGLOWA-consortium in order to develop optimal nanostructured membranes and installations for CO2 capture from powerplants. NANOGLOWA is funded by the European Commission (EC) under the 6th Framework Programme.

Sounds pretty ambitious but it would be a useful achievement until we can find cleaner ways to make electricity using more advanced nanotech such as productive nanosystems. Student/Educator discount on the Oct. 9-10 Productive Nanosystems conference ends Friday Sept 28, probably today as you are reading this. (Credit: Nanowerk) —Christine