A while back I interviewed John Colombo of the nanotechnology company Porifera which was developing a special ultra-porous nanotube in conjunction with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The nanotubes effectively "magnetize" specific molecules, creating a much more affordable means to desalinate water.

Now Porifera announces an adaptation of that technology for carbon capture. They were the recent recepient of a $1 million-plus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a pilot carbon capture and sequestration project using nanotechnology.

According to the company's new CTO (who helped develop the technology at Lawrence Livermore) Olgica Bakajin this is a major breakthrough for carbon capture. The tubes have dramatically increased capacity to absorb CO2 because of increased porosity of the tubes and "nanofluidic" properties that quickly moves target molecules into place.

Here's a nifty video that illustrates the molecular properties of the tubes:

It looks like a lot is going on but keep in mind the scale of these tiniest of hollow threads -- no more than 1/50,000th of the thickness of as human hair.

The technology has been in development for many years but according to the company, "It's at the right place to take it to the marketplace," and though not yet tested at industrial scale, this may be the first step towards a true, viable method of capturing carbon emitted from power plants.

Related story: Beer -- Carbon capture technology I believe in

Carbon-sucking nanotubes
Porifera may be the first to take new nanotechnology to market, offering a real solution for sequestering carbon.