Cambridge scientists unveil battery that captures CO2 while charging

The supercapacitor device is predicted to help power CCS technologies at a lower cost

Big Zero Report 2022

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a battery that could suck carbon dioxide while charging various applications.

In an increasingly electrified world, batteries play a foundational role in scaling technologies designed to fit in a low carbon future. However, most of the time batteries are bad for the environment.

Currently, the largest quantity of lithium is extracted from underground brine reservoirs – much of the energy used to extract and process it comes from fossil fuels.

According to automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, building a car battery weighing 500 kilograms emits 74% more carbon dioxide than producing an efficient conventional car in a factory powered by fossil fuels in Germany.

The new supercapacitor device, which works in a similar way as a rechargeable battery is made in part from sustainable materials including coconut shells and seawater.

The primary aim of the research was to establish a battery development process that does not harm the environment.

The battery, which has the size of a two-pence coin, consists of two electrodes of positive and negative charge.

The scientific team tried alternating from a negative to a positive voltage to extend the charging time from previous experiments – this improved the supercapacitor’s ability to capture carbon dioxide.

It is expected that the technology could be utilised to help power carbon capture and storage projects at a lower cost.

Dr Alexander Forse from Cambridge’s Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, said: “We found that by slowly alternating the current between the plates we can capture double the amount of carbon dioxide than before.

“The charging-discharging process of our supercapacitor potentially uses less energy than the amine heating process used in industry now.”

Dr Forse added that the team planned to investigate the mechanisms of carbon capture and improve them.

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