Fast CO2 sequestration by aerogel composites
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The increasingly evident impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on climate change and associated environmental effects is stimulating the search for viable methods to remove this gas. One of the most promising strategies is the long-term storage of CO2 in inert, insoluble and thermodynamically-stable materials. This strategy mimics the natural reactions that transform silicates into carbonates regulating the cycle of CO2 on the surface of the Earth, operating on a geological time-scale. Consequently, the aim is to accelerate these reactions to be applicable on the timescale of human lives. We present the various technologies developed or proposed to date, based on this particular approach. The principal limiting factor is that high pressures and temperatures are required to produce appropriate materials capable of CO2 sequestration and storage. Nevertheless, the synthetic materials known as aerogels can be modified in shape, size and chemical functionality so as to catalyse the process of CO2 elimination through silicates (of Ca or Mg), considerably reducing the reaction time and working at atmospheric pressure and temperature.