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May a novel alfa-cyclodextrin derivative be applied effectively to capture atmospheric methane?

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Researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Science received a research grant to find out.

Methane gas is 86 times more potent than CO2 and one of the major contributors to global warming. It is estimated that methane accounts for 30 percent of all global warming from gaseous emissions. Megatons of it are released by way of agriculture and many industrial processes. It is envisaged to apply α- cyclodextrin to pull methane from the atmosphere, consequently ameliorating the effects of global warming and climate change.

Researchers at the Faculty of Science’s Department of Chemistry lead by Chemistry professor Mikael Bols have set out such a study in a new research project being funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark. The team members will try to tailor alfa cyclodextrin’s ability to bind methane so strong that it can capture methane from the air around us.

Historically, in a study from 1957, it is demonstrated that α-cyclodextrin could bind methane and several other gases. The initial experiments of Professor Bols demonstrate that the affinity to methane was actually better than what was observed in 1957. 

In the lab-scale experiment methane gas is sent through an α-cyclodextrin solution. In the process, the methane binds to the liquid and CD. When subjected to mild heating, the liquid releases the gas, which can then be concentrated in a tank. By way of synthetic chemistry, the chemists will tailor the molecule’s properties for effective methane capturing.

The project will run for the next three years and has received DKK 2.8 million in funding from Independent Research Fund Denmark. The project is one of 37 research projects selected as the best and most innovative ideas among 337 applications to Independent Research Fund Denmark for green research.

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