Using an inexpensive polymer called melamine, chemists have created a cheap, easy and energy-efficient way to capture carbon dioxide from smokestacks.

Image Credit: Berkeley Lab

It was a key goal for the United States and other nations as they seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The process for synthesizing the melamine material could potentially be scaled down to capture emissions from vehicle exhaust or other movable sources of carbon dioxide.

Image Credit: Haiyan Mao and Jeffrey Reimer, UC Berkeley

The new material is simple to make and costs about $40 per ton.

Image Credit: Haiyan Mao and Jeffrey Reimer, UC Berkeley

The so-called melamine porous network captures carbon dioxide with an efficiency comparable to metal organic frameworks, or MOFs.

The U.S. Department of Energy has already announced projects totaling $3.18 billion to boost advanced and commercially scalable technologies for carbon capture.

Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

The melamine porous network with DETA and cyanuric acid modification captures CO2 at about 40 degrees Celsius.

Image Credit: Berkeley lab

Scientists treated melamine powder with formaldehyde, which creates nanoscale pores in the melamine that the researchers thought would absorb CO2.

Adding cyanuric acid during the polymerization reaction increased the pore size dramatically and radically improved CO2 capture efficiency.

Scientists conducted solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies to understand how cyanuric acid and DETA interacted to make carbon capture so efficient.

Scientists are continuing to tweak the pore size and amine groups to improve the carbon capture efficiency of melamine porous networks.