Carbon Capture
Carbon Capture Research & Development

Carbon capture and storage from fossil-based power generation is a critical component of realistic strategies for arresting the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but capturing substantial amounts of CO2 using current technology would result in a prohibitive rise in the cost of producing energy. The National Energy Technology Laboratory Office of Research and Development (NETL-ORD), in collaboration with researchers from regional universities, is pursuing a multifaceted approach to foster the discovery, development, and demonstration of efficient and economical carbon capture.

Integrated technology development takes materials from molecular design through fabrication to commercialization

Project Overview

The NETL-ORD capture program seeks to create technological solutions for carbon capture from pulverized coal power plants and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants.

Three approaches have generally been considered for the separation of CO2 in power generation applications. Solvents and sorbents are materials which selectively sorb CO2 from gas mixtures and release it after a change in either temperature or pressure. Solvents are liquid materials which function in a similar fashion. Membranes are devices which allow CO2 to pass through and retain all the other components of gas mixtures. Each technology has advantages and disadvantages. NETL-ORD is examining all three classes of technologies to better address both near and longer term capture goals.

Computational models examine the molecular level interactions of materials and aid in optimization.

To accelerate development of solvents, sorbents, and membranes, NETL-ORD is pursuing computational and experimental approaches.

The integrated approach, which can be envisioned as a cyclic process ranging from fundamental science through process evaluation, results in an accurate assessment of emerging technologies being developed. Furthermore, this process provides researchers insight into the properties that must be improved in future generations of materials and the scientific limitations bounding technologies. The close relationship of the scientists, engineers, and systems analysts allows each step in the technology development approach to continuously inform the others and provide rapid advancement in the development of several materials including amine-enriched sorbents, ionic liquids, and metal-organic frameworks.

Expected Outcomes

The most promising materials will be further tested at the National Carbon Capture Center or other power generation facilities using actual flue or fuel gas. Technologies, which test favorably under these conditions, will be transferred to industry. The research described will result in the creation of new materials, characterization of the performance of the materials under realistic conditions, and accelerated commercialization of technologies based on the materials.


The research will accelerate the development of efficient, cost-effective fossil fuel conversion systems that meet the programmatic goals for COcapture. Materials and separation technologies developed in this research may also have impacts in other areas.