You can make a carbon dioxide filter with a 3D printer


May 31, 2023

(Nanowerk News) In a new study, North Carolina State University researchers demonstrated that it is possible to create carbon dioxide-capturing filters using 3D printing. Specifically, they printed a hydrogel material that can resist carbonic anhydrase, the enzyme that speeds up the reactions that convert carbon dioxide and water to bicarbonate.

These findings, published in the journal Gel (Carbonic Anhydrase Enhanced UV-Crosslinked PEG-DA/PEO Extruded Hydrogel Filament Flexible and Durable Lattice for CO2 Catch”), suggesting 3D printing could be a faster and more versatile method of creating filter designs.

“This manufacturing process, using 3D printing, makes things faster and more precise,” said lead study author Jialong Shen, a research assistant professor of textile engineering, chemistry, and science at NC State. “If you have access to a printer, and the raw materials, you can make these functional materials.”

In the study, researchers at NC State Wilson College of Textiles mixed solutions containing two different organic compounds — or printing “inks” — and an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase. The researchers then printed the thread-like hydrogel filaments onto a two-dimensional lattice while condensing the solution with UV light while printing.

“We formulated the hydrogel in a way that was mechanically strong enough to be 3D printed, and also extruded into a continuous filament,” says Shen. “The inspiration behind our design was our cell itself, which has enzymes packed into compartmentalized, fluid-filled spaces. Such an environment is great for helping enzymes do their job.”

The researchers tested the properties of the material to understand how well it would bend and twist, and investigated the capture performance of carbon filters. In small-scale experiments, they found the filter captured 24% of the carbon dioxide in the gas mixture. While capture rates are lower than what they have achieved in previous designs, the filters are less than an inch (2 centimeters) in diameter, and can be made larger and in different modular shapes to stack them in tall columns. . That could increase fishing efficiency, the researchers said.

“To get higher catch rates, we need to make filters of larger diameter, or stack more filters on top of one another,” says Shen. “We don’t think it’s a problem; this is a preliminary test on a small scale for ease of testing.”

The researchers also tested the material’s filtration resistance, and found that it retained 52% of its initial carbon capture performance after more than 1,000 hours.

“This work is still in its early stages, but our findings suggest there are new ways to make materials for carbon capture devices,” said study correspondent Sonja Salmon, professor of textile engineering, chemistry and science at NC State. “We offer hope for carbon capture.”


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