Capturing CO2

10 May 2011

The researchers are looking at ways to convert CO2 into useful substances.
The researchers are looking at ways to convert CO2 into useful substances.

A team of leading researchers from some of Australia's top universities and research institutes will join forces to develop new ways to capture and transform carbon dioxide, the notorious gas at the centre of the greenhouse discussion.

Recently awarded $6 million from the CSIRO's Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) the team will explore how smart materials, called metal-organic frameworks (or MOFs) can be used to capture and concentrate CO2 with minimum energy requirements.

The team leader, University of Sydney Professor of Chemistry, Cameron Kepert said: "These materials are capable of absorbing large amounts of CO2 into nanometre-sized holes within their structures, leading potentially to the efficient separation of this gas from power station flue gases.

"On an international scale, the project mounts one of the most comprehensive investigations into this promising new area by combining world-leading expertise in both chemistry and engineering."

The team will also look at how MOFs can be used to convert CO2 into useful substances, including feedstocks for agriculture, hydrocarbon fuels and precursors to complex metal oxides for use in solar cells.

According to study collaborator, Dr Matthew Hill from CSIRO, the team will incorporate the new materials into pilot-scale testing. "We will be working closely in collaboration with the CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies and with Industry to both design and test our processes," says Dr Hill.

The 19 team members to address this challenge come from the CSIRO, the University of Sydney, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the University of Adelaide, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies.

Megan Clark, Trustee of the SIEF fund praised the project's novel approach and strong engagement with key end-user communities to ensure applicability of the outcomes to the cost effective capture and utilisation of carbon dioxide.

The SIEF fund, which has been quietly active since being founded in 1926, enjoyed a recent rejuvenation as a powerful endowment mechanism for science in Australia due to a gift from CSIRO made possible from licensing its wireless LAN intellectual property. The fund supports fundamental scientific research in the fields of natural or applied science that benefits Australian industry or addresses national challenges.

Interview contacts: Professor Cameron Kepert, 9351 5741,

Dr Matthew Hill, CSIRO, 0408 878 529

Media enquiries: Victoria Hollick, 9351 2579, 0401 711 361,