(4c) Automated, Flowable Formats for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration and Tailored Manufacturing of Colloidal Nanomaterials

Authors: 
Abolhasani, M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Guenther, A., University of Toronto



Since our demand for energy is increasing due to the growth of populations and development of countries, the emissions of greenhouse gases (mostly carbon dioxide (CO2)) from fossil fuels will constantly increase. Currently, carbon capture and sequestration is the most efficient solution to control and reduce the concentration of the released greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But the underground storage of the captured CO2 is expensive and limited to some specific locations. On the other hand, the current rate of energy consumption and inevitable future demands means that energy will be one of the crucial issues of the near future. Therefore, there will be a huge demand for new sets of sustainable energy substitutes. In 2008, it was found that CO2 in the presence of a frustrated Lewis pair and hydrogen can be converted to methanol and water. This chemical reaction has the potential to be the key solution to address both of the above-mentioned challenges; captured carbon storage and energy.

In my PhD, I was working on a multidisciplinary project, collaborating between Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry Departments. During this time I made significant contributions in flow chemistry and microfluidic (MF) research fields specifically related to screening gas solubilities in liquids, measuring carbon dioxide-physical solvent mass transfer characteristics associated with CO2 sequestration and on-demand preparation of high quality colloidal nanomaterials (e.g. CdSe/CdS).

In my PhD project, I have designed and developed the first automated MF platform that allows the routine screening of solubility data for a wide range of CO2-physical solvent mixtures. The platform allows screening of approximately 300 different conditions (temperature and pressure) during one day. I have also designed a MF platform for high temperature (240-330 C) synthesis of high quality (Fwhm ~30 nm) nanocrystals such as CdSe, CdS and ZnS. This automated platform can produce high quality core or core/shell quantum dots with the desired spectral characteristics at a throughput of 0.6 ml/min.

As an independent scientist, I will focus on integrating the carbon capture process with its fuel conversion step. To do this, I will use MF technologies as a tool for screening the reaction conditions and process development and optimization to develop a robust, integrated and high throughput system for capturing and converting CO2 to fuel. I will also study the underlying transport phenomena in the presence of chemical reactions with experimental and numerical methods.