Cation-exchanged zeolites-A prepared from South African fly ash feedstock for CO2 adsorption
In South Africa coal combustion constitutes up to 90 % of the country’s energy need. This coal combustion activity is known to contribute to the amount of about 40 % of the total CO2 atmospheric emissions worldwide that are responsible for global warming effects. In addition burning of coal generates a large quantity of fly ash which creates environmental pollution since only a small portion of it is currently used in some applications. In order, on one hand to mitigate and sequester CO2 and on the other hand to reprocess fly ash and reuse it, this study focuses on developing new technologies with cost-effective and less energy consumption in the domain of CO2 capture and sequestration. CO2 has priority attention for being the largest contributor to global warming. Various techniques have been used for CO2 capture and sequestration, such as aqueous alkylamine absorption or adsorption onto a solid adsorbent such as zeolites. In this study NaA zeolite adsorbent was hydrothermally synthesised from South African fly ash. This fly ash based NaA zeolite was then used as starting material to prepare LiA, CaA, and MgA zeolite catalysts via ion-exchange for comparative CO2 adsorption capacity. A systematic design of the ion-exchange procedure was undertaken at either 30 °C or 60 °C for a contact time of 1 hr, 4 hrs, and 8 hrs with 1, 2 and 3 consecutive exchanges in each case in order to determine the optimum conditions for loading each cation exchanged. The adsorption of CO2 on the ion- exchanged fly ash based zeolite-A catalysts was carried out at 40 °C similar to the temperature of flue gas since the catalysts obtained in this study were also prepared with a view to their applications in flue gas system. The CO2 desorption temperature ranged between 40-700 °C. All materials used in this study, starting from fly ash feedstock, werecharacterized using various techniques to monitor the mineral and structural composition, the morphology, surface area and elemental composition and the adsorption capacity. The techniques included mainly Fourier transform infra-red, X-ray diffraction, Scanning electron microscopy, Transmission electron microscopy, Energy dispersive spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence, Temperature programmed desorption.The results obtained from both Fourier transform infra-red and the X-raydiffraction spectroscopy for samples exchanged at either 30° C or 60 °C showedlower crystallinity in CaA and MgA zeolite samples. This decrease in crystallinitymainly affected the D4R (0-20° 2) and was demonstrated in the study to beinversely proportional to the increase of the atomic radius of cations (Li+ > Mg2+ >Ca2+). In the Fourier transform infra-red, the vibration band at 677 cm-1 attributedto the extra-framework cation, also proportionally increased with the decrease ofthe atomic radius or size of the cations, and was intense in LiA zeolite samples.