The U.S. Department of Energy will award the UI more than $1.26 million over the next three years to explore a solvent for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from coal burning. The project is one of 10 supported by a $67 million DOE initiative to develop carbon-capture technologies, and UI is the only academic institution selected to lead a project.
Yongqi Lu, a chemical/environmental engineer in the Advanced Energy Technology Initiative of the Illinois State Geological Survey, will lead the effort, a collaboration between UI and engineering firm Parsons Corp. The Illinois team will conduct a proof-of-concept study for the use of carbonate salts, such as potassium or sodium carbonate, to absorb carbon dioxide as it is released from coal combustion. Preliminary evaluation suggests that carbonate salt process could use half the energy of traditional absorption processes, providing a more energy-efficient way to reduce carbon emissions, and could be retrofitted to existing coal-burning plants. The researchers hope to advance the process to a pilot-scale demonstration within three years.
Four UI faculty members are a part of a $22.5 million "glue grant" from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study proteins embedded in cellular membranes. Claudio Grosman, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology; Emad Tajkhorshid, a professor of pharmacology; and physics professors Klaus Schulten and Paul Selvin are among nearly 30 researchers at 14 institutions working to establish the Membrane Protein Structural Dynamics Consortium, centered at the University of Chicago. Understanding membrane proteins and their gatekeeping roles for molecules entering and exiting the cell could provide insight for medical queries such as drug delivery pathways and treatment for certain diseases affecting cellular receptors or transporters.