Direct removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, known as direct air capture (DAC) is attracting worldwide attention as a negative emission technology to control atmospheric CO2 concentrations. However, the energy-intensive nature of CO2 absorption-desorption processes has restricted deployment of DAC operations. Catalytic solvent regeneration is an effective solution to tackle this issue by accelerating CO2 desorption at lower regeneration temperatures. This work reports a one-step synthesis methodology to prepare monodispersed carbon nanospheres (MCSs) using trisodium citrate as a structure-directing agent with acidic sites. The assembly of citrate groups on the surface of MCSs enables consistent spherical growth morphology, reduces agglomeration and enhances water dispersibility. The functionalization-assisted synthesis produces uniform, hydrophilic nanospheres of 100–600 nm range. This work also demonstrates that the prepared MCSs can be further functionalized with strong Brønsted acid sites, providing high proton donation ability. Furthermore, the materials can be effectively used in a wide range of amino acid solutions to substantially accelerate CO2 desorption (25.6% for potassium glycinate and 41.1% for potassium lysinate) in the DAC process. Considering the facile synthesis of acidic MCSs and their superior catalytic efficiency, these findings are expected to pave a new path for energy-efficient DAC.
- amino acids
- direct air capture
- energy-efficient co capture
- monodispersed carbon spheres
- water-dispersible nanocatalysts