Research Initiation Award: Mechanisms of CO2 Adsorption in Amine-immobilized Porous Materials
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support to STEM faculty at HBCUs to pursue research at their home institution, at an NSF-funded Center, at a research intensive institution or at a national laboratory. The RIA projects are expected to help further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, to improve research and teaching at their home institution, and to involve undergraduate students in research experiences. With support from the National Science Foundation, Fayetteville State University (FSU), will conduct research aimed at addressing one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our age: the escalating level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a major greenhouse gas largely correlated to the combustion of fossil fuels. For the foreseeable future, it seems that the ever-growing energy demand will most likely necessitate more consumption of these indispensable sources of energy. Therefore, it is strategically important to develop technologies for Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS). Currently, aqueous amine solution is the most advanced technology for carbon capture. However, the use of aqueous amine solution suffers from several significant drawbacks, including apparatus corrosion and high regeneration cost. These disadvantages can be alleviated if we graft amine into porous solid matrix instead of mixing with water. This project aims at developing novel amine-grafted porous organic polymers for efficient carbon capture. We expect two major benefits for our designed materials: one is noncorrosive. Amines are grafted inside the porous solid matrix without direct contact the apparatus. The other is energy efficient. Water has one of the highest heat capacities. It costs a lot more energy to heat aqueous solution than porous solid in a temperature swing process. The successful implementation of this proposed research will enhance our international competitiveness in carbon capture technology.
The scientific challenges for amine-grafted porous materials to become an economically viable technology for carbon capture are their CO2 loading, recyclability, and manufacturing costs. The better understanding of adsorption-desorption mechanisms of CO2 in amine-grafted porous materials is one of the key factors which will help us design and synthesize such materials to reach maximum CO2 loading with optimized energy efficiency. We propose several strategies to build porous polymeric platforms to study the structure-property correlations between amines and CO2 molecules. First, we build anchors in the porous platforms, then we use these anchors to attach amines of different lengths. The number of amines that could be incorporated is largely dependent upon the number of installed anchors; therefore, high concentration and even distribution of anchors inside the porous platforms ensure the maximum amine loading afterwards. The proposed research will advance our understanding of the CO2 adsorption-desorption mechanisms in amine-grafted porous materials at the molecular level. The knowledge generated will guide the development of such materials of high CO2 loading with optimized energy efficiency. The proposed research will also allow the PI to work with two to three undergraduate researchers each year over a three-year course. All of them will obtain extensive training in experimental design and implementation, data collection and analysis, results presentation and publication, etc. Such experiences will boost their competency and prepare them for graduate schools or professional workforces.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.