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Danger Gas Breakthrough; Scientists' Special Tubes Could Cut Power Station Emissions

Aug 3, 2007 - Nicola Juncar - Evening Chronicle - Newcastle-upon-Tyne

ENGINEERS in the North East may have developed a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power stations to almost nothing.

The team of experts from Newcastle University has been researching the effects of ceramic tubes to develop a new combustion process.

The tubes are made from an advanced material known as LSCF, which is able to filter oxygen.

And the engineers believe it has the potential to reduce emissions from gas-fired power stations and possibly coal and oil- fired electricity generation systems too.

The new combustion process has been developed and tested in labs by Prof Ian Metcalfe, Dr Alan Thursfield and colleagues in Newcastle University's school of chemical engineering and advanced materials.

Prof Metcalfe said: "The cheapest way to dispose of waste carbon dioxide from combustion is to release it into the atmosphere. We have been doing this since humans first discovered how to make fire. The technology we have developed may provide a viable alternative."

Conventional gas-fired power stations burn methane, producing a mixture of nitrogen and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, which are emitted into the atmosphere.

Separating the gases would cost too much. However, tubes made of LSCF (Lanthanum-Strontium-Cobalt-Ferric Oxide) act as a filter so only oxygen reaches the methane gas. This results in a mixture of almost pure carbon dioxide and steam and these can easily be separated by condensing out the steam as water.

At the end of the process the oxygen-depleted air, which consists mainly of nitrogen, can be returned to the atmosphere with no harmful effects.

LSCF is resistant to corrosion, however, the Newcastle team is now carrying out further tests on the durability of the tubes to confirm they could withstand the conditions inside a power station combustion chamber.

(c) 2007 Evening Chronicle - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.