RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

Collaborative research develops technology to harness carbon dioxide gas

SOURCE: CSIRO Australia
CSIRO project lead Dr Aaron Thornton demonstrates how the new technology can be used.


By U2B Staff 

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Australia’s national science research institute CSIRO is collaborating with Monash University, Energy Infrastructure and Resources, and H2H Energy to develop a new technology that converts carbon dioxide gas in the air for commercial use. 

This innovative technology called Airthena was developed to meet the global demand for industrial supplies of CO2 gas for various commercial uses such as making fizzy beverages, food production, and for use in agricultural greenhouses. 

This collaboration was funded for about AU$725,000 from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund

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Airthena captures CO2 directly from the air through tiny sponges known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). 

This technology uses advanced filtration methods which can provide a sustainable and cost-effective alternative for the industry as opposed to current practices of harnessing CO2 gas from limited resources of natural gas. 

“As it requires just air and electricity to work, Airthena offers a cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally-friendly option to recycle CO2 for use on-site, on-demand,” said CSIRO project lead Dr Aaron Thronton. 

“It also provides a more reliable source of CO2 for use in small-scale applications ranging from beverage carbonation to controlling pH in swimming pools, and industrial cleaning.”

Carbon dioxide gas
The Airthena unit can be used for small-scale commercial business purposes. Source: CSIRO Australia. 

Before this, carbon dioxide gas (CO2) for industrial use has been either generated onsite through the burning of natural gas or it can be bought from a supplier, which involves expensive long-distance transportation. 

Airthena is a better alternative to this because it only needs about two kilowatt-hours of electricity per kilogram of CO2 which equals to around 20 cents per kilogram at minimum solar energy prices of AU$0.1 per kilowatt-hour. 

According to General Manager of Murphyfresh Hydroponics Jon Murphy, his company spends a lot of money on buying carbon dioxide for use in their greenhouses to grow tomatoes and other produce. So companies such as his would be eager to see a new technology that can deliver CO2 onsite and on-demand. 

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At the moment Airthena is still meant for small-scale commercial use so it won’t make an immediate impact on cutting carbon emissions just yet. 

Even so, it will help to provide businesses with a more reliable source of gas for their everyday operations and reduce their carbon footprint. 

“We are now exploring options for taking Airthena to market, which include reducing the cost of the unit for small scale applications and having it tested to ensure it meets food quality standards, or working with the food production industry to scale up the technology for larger applications,” added Dr Thornton.

Businesses who are interested in further collaboration to develop this technology can visit CSIRO’s Marketplace