Water-Treated TESET Membrane Proves Efficient at Capturing Carbon

Climate concerns are more dependent on the CO2 emission problem. Last year, emissions reached an all-time high. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere might be greater than it has been in three million years.

TESET, before and after water treatment. The water has changed the structure in the material. Image Credit: Kenneth P. Mineart, NCSU.

Carbon capture will probably be vital to bring down the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. To achieve this, researchers need the materials and technology to perform that job. In recent times, a surprising and potential new candidate has surfaced.

The results are first and foremost important in terms of climate change.

Liyuan Deng, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The work of the membrane research group at NTNU led by Professor Deng is gaining attention for its results.

Water Altered the Material

Power plants that operate using fossil fuels require a membrane with the ability to filter the emissions and isolate the carbon. These membranes must be CO2-permeable and also isolate the CO2 from the other gases such as nitrogen.

We didn’t think this membrane material was going to be suitable.

Liyuan Deng, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

It was easy to change the mechanism with a simple move. The hopeless membrane candidate required another substance to function properly. This substance was simply water.

By immersing the membrane into water and drying it again, the membrane experienced a change. The CO2 entered the membrane much more effectively, and the membrane was slightly better at filtering out nitrogen.

A journal in the Nature group, NPG Asia Materials, recently published an article on the NTNU study, which noted that “these nanostructured membranes constitute promising candidates for gas separation technologies aimed at CO2 capture.”


The material in question is a polymer. In general, polymers are comparatively less costly and can be produced easily. Several researchers consider them as potential candidates for isolating different gases on the large scale that would be required. Hence, the membranes must also be durable and stable.

Polymers are substances composed of long-chain molecules. Various plastics are polymers, but also found naturally as proteins, for example, glass and cellulose.

This specific polymer carries the name poly[tert-butylstyrene-b-(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b-(styrene-r-styrenesulfonate)-b-(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b-tert-butylstyrene].

Luckily, it has been given an alternative name as TESET. Already the material is being commercially used and is therefore easily available.

The company holding the patent is interested in this new field of application.

Liyuan Deng, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Only Membrane Research Group in Norway

The Membrane Research Laboratory at NTNU hosts the only group in Norway that performs research on membranes from polymers that can be employed to filter CO2 from the air. Some researchers are working with the same materials independently, while other groups are exploring inorganic membranes.

Overall, studies on membranes in Norway are highly advanced and probably even cutting edge, says Professor Liyuan Deng. This specific study is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

A research group is also investigating other potential candidates for CO2 filtration. Among these are membranes formed of graphene oxide. Graphene is the world’s strongest and thinnest material. The material contains a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern. Furthermore, it exhibits many interesting properties, and many groups at NTNU are exploring the practical fields of application for it.

All the articles and published results from the membrane research group associated with Horizon 2020 can be freely accessed by the public. The Trondheim laboratory is open to researchers worldwide to perform experiments, as long as they obtain permission and assistance from the EU ECCSEL project.

Source: https://www.ntnu.edu/

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