Canberra, April 23 :
In what could offer huge environmental and cost savings for the energy industry, researchers have now developed a new material that prevents plastic from ageing.
When applied to plastic lining, this new material can clean up exhaust gases from power plants much more effectively than existing methods, said the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Currently, the techniques industry use to separate out raw materials such as gases, liquids and solids are extremely energy-intensive, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s energy use each year.
“The new technique offers a solution that will make the separation process a staggering 50 times faster,” said Sam Lau, lead author of the study.
At the moment power generators rely on plastic linings made up of tiny holes just one nanometre wide, a tiny fraction of a width of a human hair, Xinhua reported.
For decades, scientists have been trying to improve the efficiency of this process by using plastics with larger holes.
However, these larger openings tend to age very quickly and collapse within a matter of days.
“What we have done is make use of incredible compact materials known as Metallic Organic Frameworks, or MOFs, which have the surface area of a football field in just one gram,” Lau said.
We found that the density of the MOFs acts like a shot of botox and actually freezes the larger holey structures in place for an entire year, Lau added.
According to Lau, not only does the technique have incredible potential for cleaning up exhaust gases from power plants, it could also be used to enhance the purity of natural gas streams, the separation of water from alcohols, a key process in biofuel synthesis and for dye removal in the textile industry.