Enhancing CO2 absorption for post-combustion carbon capture via zinc-based biomimetic catalysts in industrially relevant amine solutions

Leland R. Widger, Moushumi Sarma, Rachael A. Kelsey, Chad Risko, Cameron A. Lippert, Sean R. Parkin, Kunlei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, are a global environmental, health, and economic concern. Aqueous amine-based CO2 capture processes offer a technologically mature and relevant approach to CO2 sequestration, although cost reduction strategies are still necessary for widespread deployment. Inspired by the metalloenzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA), we report the design, synthesis, and activity testing of zinc(II) complexes [ZnII(PSAAMP)Cl2] (1) and [ZnII(PSAMEA)Cl2] (2) as CO2 hydration catalysts in aqueous amine solutions. The novel multifunctional ligand environment includes features in the primary and secondary coordination spheres that result in enhanced CO2 mass transfer in industrially relevant carbon capture solvents and stability towards harsh industrial process conditions. Complexes that lack these key features do not show enhanced CO2 absorption. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations that assess the catalytic pathway demonstrate how 1 and 2 catalyze CO2 hydration analogous to CA. These catalysts increase mass transfer by 20–55% in lab scale experiments, offering the potential to reduce the cost of amine-based CO2 capture processes without significantly altering industrial-scale system design, making rapid deployment of this critical bridge technology a viable strategy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Carbon Management Research Group (CMRG) , and US-China Clean Energy Research Center – Advanced Coal and Technology Collaboration ( DE-PI0000017 ) for funding. C.R. thanks the University of Kentucky (UK) and UK Vice President for Research for start-up funds. Supercomputing resources on the Lipscomb High Performance Computing Cluster were provided by the UK Information Technology Department and Centre for Computational Sciences (CCS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Additives
  • Amine
  • CO capture
  • Catalyst
  • Mass transfer
  • Post-combustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Energy (all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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