Na2CO3-modified CaO-based CO2 sorbents: the effects of structure and morphology on CO2 uptake†
Calcium looping (CaL) is a CO2 capture technique based on the reversible carbonation/calcination of CaO that is considered promising to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, the rapid decay of the CO2 uptake of CaO over repeated cycles of carbonation and calcination due to sintering limits its implementation at the industrial scale. Thus, the development of material design strategies to stabilize the CO2 uptake capacity of CaO is paramount. The addition of alkali metal salts to CaO has been proposed as a strategy to mitigate the rapid loss of its cyclic CO2 uptake capacity. However, there are conflicting results concerning the effect of the addition of alkali metal carbonates on the structure and CO2 capacity of CaO. In this work, we aim at understanding the effect of the addition of Na2CO3 to CaO on the sorbent's structure and its CO2 uptake capacity. We demonstrate that under industrially-relevant conditions the addition of as little as 1 wt% of Na2CO3 reduces severely the CO2 uptake of CaO. Combining TGA, XAS and FIB-SEM analysis allowed us to attribute the performance degradation to the formation of the double salt Na2Ca(CO3)2 that induces strong sintering leading to a significant loss in the sorbent's pore volume. In addition, during the carbonation step the formation of a dense layer of Na2Ca(CO3)2 that covers unreacted CaO prevents its full carbonation to CaCO3.