ExxonMobil is teaming up with California-based startup Mosaic Materials to explore how to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from emissions sources.
Berkeley, CA-based Mosaic’s research centers around using porous solids, known as metal-organic frameworks (MOF), to separate CO2 from air or flue gas. The partners plan to evaluate opportunities to use MOF for industrial uses at scale.
“New technologies in carbon capture will be critical enablers for us to meet growing energy demands, while reducing emissions,” said ExxonMobil’s Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development (R&D) for the supermajor’s Research and Engineering Co.
The agreement, said Mosaic CEO Thomas McDonald, would “accelerate the pace of our development and demonstrate the business and environmental benefits that our technology can offer.” The company’s proprietary technology “allows us to separate carbon dioxide from nearly any gas mixture using moderate temperature and pressure changes, substantially increasing energy efficiency and decreasing costs.”
MOFs function as “ultra-high capacity sponges” for gases because the pore surfaces allow a large number of adsorption sites for gas molecules. By changing the chemical properties of the adsorption sites, MOFs could be designed to selectively capture only specific gases from a complex mixture. The chemical tunability and large surface area allow MOFs to outperform other gas separation technologies including distillation and absorption, according to Mosaic.
The technology, originally developed at the University of California, Berkeley, uses a cooperative binding process to produce highly selective MOF materials that require less energy than competing technologies. The technology may be used to separate CO2 from nearly any gas mixture, from raw natural gas to recirculated breathing air.
“Our agreement with Mosaic expands our carbon capture technology research portfolio, which is evaluating multiple pathways, including evaluation of carbonate fuel cells and direct air capture, to reduce costs and enable large-scale deployment,” Swarup said. “Adding Mosaic’s approach will allow us to build on their work to evaluate the potential for this technology to have a meaningful impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”
ExxonMobil, like many of its peers, is collaborating with startups, academia and governments to develop next-generation energy technologies to improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In May, the supermajor agreed to invest up to $100 million over 10 years to develop advanced low-emissions technologies with Department of Energy laboratories. The collaboration is to support R&D to bring biofuels, as well as carbon capture and storage, to commercial scale across the transportation, power generation and industrial sectors.