CO2 Sorption in Aminopolymer-Based Direct Air Capture Composites Through Fluorescent Detection

Wade Braunecker, Glory Russell-Parks, Noemi Leick, Brian Trewyn

Research output: NRELPresentation


Aminopolymer-mesoporous oxide composites are becoming widely recognized for their ability to adsorb CO2 directly from the air. However, a better fundamental understanding of the nature of these materials under different environmental operating conditions will be necessary before they become ubiquitous in industrial direct air capture (DAC) systems. For example, gas diffusion in general is coupled with polymer segmental mobility in these composites; diffusion is therefore affected by interactions of the polymer with the pore wall of the mesoporous oxide, by the relative humidity of the air, and by electrostatic crosslinks that develop as a function of CO2 sorption. Disentangling these and additional complicated effects in order to better optimize operating conditions is a major challenge for the field. Here, we present a method for quantifying the adsorption of CO2 and moisture in a polyethylenimine (PEI) - Al2O3 composite using infrared sensing while we simultaneously monitor polymer mobility with a fluorescent probe molecule doped into the composite. Both the fluorescence intensity and shape of the emission spectra are strongly dependent on the mobility of the supporting medium. We monitor the polymer mobility and CO2 adsorption kinetics across a series of different relative humidities (RH) with this technique, and we observed that the relative difference between polymer mobility and sorption kinetics from one RH to the next are quite dramatic. We interpret these results and discuss how they can be used to inform the design of more efficient DAC systems for real-world operating conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring Meeting, 26-30 March 2023, Indianapolis, Indiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5900-85774


  • carbon capture
  • CO2
  • fluorescent
  • oxide


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