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New Dean Bernhard Leads ND Research Merz Named AAAS Fellow
NSF Career Awards Kareem Receives Int'l Nod Laneman Wins PECASE
2007 Teaching Awards ND Storm Tracker Another Patent
Huang Receives Fulbright Award Corke Receives Research Award CSR taps Izaguirre
SWE Honors Pieronek ND Hosts EMC-DRC Conferences IEEE Honors Liu
"Straight on 'til Morning" Bioengineering Ph.D. at ND Brennecke Wins Prausnitz Award
Learning from the Best Maziar Promoted Nanotechnology on Emerald Isle
Engineering Structures Faculty Promotions/Anniversaries New Faculty
General Salute The Green Party Face Recognition Report Released

The Green Party

According to the article “Making Dirty Coal Plants Cleaner” in the July 13 issue of Science, emissions from coal-fired plants are responsible for almost a third of the greenhouse gases caused by humanity. In the United States alone, the gases these plants produce surpass the amount generated by cars and all other industries combined. Is it any wonder that finding a way to curb these carbon emissions is a popular idea? Edward J. Maginn, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who is quoted in the article, says there are basically three approaches to capturing the carbon dioxide (CO2) in flue gas: pre-combustion capture, post-combustion capture, and oxy-firing. Maginn, along with Joan F. Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Director of the Notre Dame Energy Center, William F. Schneider, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and a team of Notre Dame researchers are concentrating on post-combustion activities, which apply to the majority of the world’s power plants. What’s unique about their activities is that they are using ionic liquids (ILs), a relatively new class of chemicals that are liquid at room temperature, to create an environmentally friendly absorption process.

“One of the exciting things about research is how pursuing one activity can shed light on another and open totally new avenues of possibility,” Maginn says. While the team was working to make green solvents for the chemical industry, they found the CO2 they were using in the experiments dissolved in the ILs. This led to a few other experiments, and now the team is working on a federally funded project to capture and separate CO2 in carbon-based electric generation power plants.

In fact, they have established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for the project and are working with DTE Energy, Detroit, Mich.; Babcock and Wilcox, Baberton, Ohio; EMD Chemicals, Inc., Gibbstown, N.J.; Trimeric, Buda, Texas; Air Products, Allentown, Pa.; and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, Pa. To date they have identified more than 20 new ILs that dissolve CO2. They also have designed new ILs with enhanced CO2 solubility and developed advanced molecular modeling capabilities to make quantitative predictions of IL properties based only on chemical structure.

Notre Dame team uses atomic-scale simulations of ionic liquid-carbon dioxide interactions to complement their laboratory experiments.