Natural gas requires heavy processing to remove carbon dioxide and other impurities before it can be used for fuel. Many processing plants use low-cost polymer membranes to remove carbon dioxide. Researchers have now developed a new polymer with hourglass-shaped pores that can do the job more efficiently than standard polymers do.
Membranes used for gas separation have pores that let through some molecules but not others. However, variations in the size and shape of the pores reduce the membranes' efficiency. Chemical engineer Ho Bum Park at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues have designed a polymer with uniform pores.