A new CO2 scrubbing filter inspired by bird lungs could be applied to both power plants and automobiles.
Created by Aaron Esser-Kahn and team of the University of California, the scrubber is based on the tiny tubes inside the lungs of birds, called parabronchii. The tubes, with their large surface area, are very efficient at filtering oxygen from the air—a necessary adaptation since birds fly often fly at altitudes where there is very little oxygen.
Using the lungs as a model, the research team designed filters made of different-sized tubes, with larger tubes for waste-emissions and smaller ones filled with a liquid that will absorb CO2. As waste gas moves through the larger tubes, it would pass near the smaller, liquid-filled tubes, which would absorb the CO2 before the gas is emitted into the air. To create a large surface area, for better exposure to the CO2 diffusing liquid, the team arranged the tubes in a repeating square pattern. In tests, the device outperformed bird lungs by 50 percent.
Image: Michael & Christa Richert
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[AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY