Sea cucumbers inspire sponge that absorbs CO2

May 16th, 2009 - 1:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 16 (ANI): An Australian researcher has suggested that the porous structure of sea cucumbers could be the perfect model to create a sponge that absorbs C02 (carbon dioxide) and boosts hydrogen fuel production.

According to a report by ABC News, the researcher in question is Chemical engineer Dr Andrew Harris of the University of Sydney.

Australia’s main source of hydrogen currently comes from burning fossil fuels, which also releases C02.

Dr Harris said that the C02 released during this process could be absorbed by sponges made of calcium oxide.

Harris is using a group of marine creatures known as echinoderms, which includes starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers, as his source of inspiration.

He said that the creatures have an “awesome” calcium carbonate skeleton, ideal for absorbing C02, which he hopes to mimic the structure to produce a synthetic sponge.

Harris said that removing carbon dioxide from the combustion process dramatically increases the output of hydrogen from 50 percent to 80 percent of the total volume.

To carry out their research, Harris and his team have been awarded a research grant from European Energy Company E.ON.

They will investigate materials like silicon carbide and alumina to build synthetic sponges, which would be grafted with calcium oxide to absorb the C02.

To keep them cost effective, the C02 would have to be re-released so the sponges can be used again.

“You want to be able to use the calcium oxide again and again. It’s prohibitively expensive to mine calcium oxide just to mop up C02,” said Harris. (ANI)

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