Toshiba Group Continues Progress in Promising Method of CO2 Absorption

Apr 19, 2001, 01:00 ET from Toshiba Corporation

    INDIANAPOLIS, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Toshiba Corporation and Toshiba
 Ceramics Co., Ltd. today announced lithium silicate, a new ceramic material
 that surpasses other ceramics in the speed at which it absorbs carbon dioxide
 (CO2), and does so at room temperature.  Lithium silicate is seen as a
 milepost toward the development of lighter, cheaper ceramic materials offering
 faster absorption rates, while its room-temperature absorption CO2 opens the
 way to a wide range of practical applications in reducing CO2 emissions.
 Details of lithium silicate will be announced at the American Ceramic Society,
 which will be held from April 22 to 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
     Toshiba's advances in CO2-absorbing ceramics include the April 1998
 breakthrough development of a lithium zirconate ceramic material that absorbs
 400 times its own volume of CO2 -- a level surpassing previous CO2 absorbers
 by a factor of ten.
     Lithium silicate, which Toshiba co-developed with Toshiba Ceramics,
 absorbs CO2 at a rate 30-times faster than lithium zirconate and lithium
 transition metal oxide predecessors.  In a 20% CO2 gaseous environment at
 500oC, 1g of lithium silicate absorbs 62mg of CO2 in a minute, while its
 predecessors can manage only 1.8mg a minute.
     Lithium silicate offers a light, low cost solution that widens the range
 of practical applications. Zirconium, the main material in earlier
 CO2-absorbing ceramics, is expensive and comparatively heavy.  Silicion, the
 main material of lithium silicate, costs only 15% the price of zirconium and
 is 70% lighter in weight.  Its ability to absorb CO2 will extend use of
 lithium silicate into consumer products, such as air cleaners.
     Toshiba's development of lithium zirconate and lithium transition metal
 oxide demonstrated a simplified absorption-discharge cycle that is
 temperature-triggered and does not require any complicated chemical reaction.
     Absorption occurs between 450oC to 700oC and discharge occurs by heating
 to a temperature exceeding 700oC.  With the new material the same simplified
 cycle commences absorption at room temperature, while retaining same high
 discharge temperature.
     CO2 has long been identified as a major contributor to global warming.
 International concern over CO2 emission levels is growing and lower levels are
 a must in order to combat global warming.  In addition to energy saving
 measures, there is another route to reduction:  to collect and fix the gas
 before it is released into the atmosphere.
     The successful development of practical CO2-absorbing materials is one of
 the Toshiba Group's wide ranging environmental protection activities,
 including improved power generation, energy-saving products and technologies
 for combating pollution.
     Toshiba Ceramics, a specialist in industrial ceramics, made a major
 contribution to the development of lithium silicate.  "We are delighted to
 have contributed to development of this breakthrough ceramic material that
 holds out great promise for fighting CO2 emissions and contributing to
 environmental protection," said Mr. Hideo Uemoto, Deputy Manager at Toshiba
 Ceramics' Research & Development Center.  "We now look forward to developing a
 variety of practical applications and to bringing them to market at an early
     The development of new material confirms the highly promising direction of
 Toshiba Group's research.  "We have made great progress since we first
 announced CO2 absorbing ceramics in 1998 by developing a more effective, low
 cost, CO2 absorber that functions at room temperature," said Dr. Masahiro
 Kato, Research Scientist at Toshiba's Power Supply Materials & Devices
 Laboratory in Research & Development Center.  "This achievement will
 contribute to combating global warming in the near future and enhance
 Toshiba's group-wide contribution for environmental protection activities."
     Commercial versions of the new ceramic material could play a central role
 in emission reduction.  For example, drivers could exchange full CO2 absorbing
 ceramic cartridges for new ones at gas stations.  A similar service could be
 introduced at power plants and industrial facilities.  Collected CO2 could be
 recycled.  In commercial agriculture, it could be used to promote
 photosynthesis and plant growth in greenhouses; or it could be reacted with
 hydrogen to produce methanol.  Some researchers envisage an
 environment-friendly fuel cycle in which carbon dioxide from methanol-burning
 power plants is converted back into methanol, by natural energy such as
 sunlight, holding out the promise of a long-term solution to the problem of
 climatic change.
     Toshiba and Toshiba Ceramics plan to launch the prototype of small-size
 industrial use CO2 collection devices by the end of year, followed by
 large-size devices used to combat global warming in 2003.  Toshiba and Toshiba
 Ceramics will together propose a wide range of uses for the lithium silicate
 to interested parties.
     Toshiba's presentation on promising ceramics will be from 11:30 to 12:00
 on April 23, the second day of the conference.
     Toshiba Corporation
     Midori Suzuki
     Corporate Communications Office, Toshiba Corporation
     Tel: +81-3-3457-2105
     Fax: +81-3-5444-9202

SOURCE Toshiba Corporation