Hybrid Solvent-Membrane CO2 Capture

Hybrid Solvent-Membrane CO2 Capture

Lexington, Kentucky
Project Term:
07/01/2010 - 04/18/2013

Critical Need:

Coal-fired power plants provide nearly 50% of all electricity in the U.S. While coal is a cheap and abundant natural resource, its continued use contributes to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. Capturing and storing this CO2 would reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels while allowing power plants to continue using inexpensive coal. Carbon capture and storage represents a significant cost to power plants that must retrofit their existing facilities to accommodate new technologies. Reducing these costs is the primary objective of the IMPACCT program.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University of Kentucky is developing a hybrid approach to capturing CO2 from the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants. In the first, CO2 is removed as flue gas is passed through an aqueous ammonium-based solvent. In the second, carbon-rich solution from the CO2 absorber is passed through a membrane that is designed to selectively transport the bound carbon, enhancing its concentration on the permeate side. The team's approach would combine the best of both membrane- and solvent-based carbon capture technologies. Under the ARPA-E award, the team is enabling the membrane operation to be a drop-in solution.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the University of Kentucky's hybrid solvent-membrane approach would efficiently collect and remove CO2 while limiting additional costs to generate electricity for coal-fired power plants.


Enabling continued use of domestic coal for electricity generation will preserve the stability of the electric grid.


Carbon capture technology could prevent more than 800 million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.


Enabling cost-effective carbon capture systems could accelerate their adoption at existing power plants.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Karma Sawyer
Project Contact:
Prof. Kunlei Liu
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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