The next time you wash your hair, think about this: the same ingredients that make your hair super-shiny can also scrub carbon dioxide from the air. Scientists at GE Global Research have discovered that aminosilicones–active ingredients in hair conditioners, fabric softeners, and flexible high-temperature plastics–can be used to capture CO2 from the flues of coal-powered plants.
There are already plenty of other CO2-capturing ingredients being used for carbon capture and storage tests (human blood, anyone?) but GE claims that aminosilicones can remove an impressive 90% of CO2 from
simulated flue gas at a more efficient and cheaper rate than current materials.
GE still has one big problem to deal with. As of right now, there are no CO2 capture technologies in full-scale operation at coal-fired plants–the technology is only being tested at pilot plants. But since GE is behind the world’s largest CCS project, a $400 million endeavor in Australia’s Gorgon natural gas field, the company at least has the leverage to make sure that its aminosilicone technology comes out in front. It will still be awhile before we see aminosilicone in action, though. The Gorgon CCS project won’t come online until 2011, and it will take years to analyze its success.