Energy giant ExxonMobil (XOM) has discovered a new material that could capture more than 90% of CO2 emitted from industrial sources, such as natural gas-fired power plants, using low-temperature steam, requiring less energy for the overall carbon capture process.
Scientists from the company worked with the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the project.
Laboratory tests indicate the patent-pending materials, known as tetraamine-functionalized metal organic frameworks, capture carbon dioxide emissions up to six times more effectively than conventional amine-based carbon capture technology, says Exxon.
Using less energy to capture and remove carbon, the material has the potential to reduce the cost of the technology and eventually support commercial applications.
By manipulating the structure of the metal organic framework material, the team of scientists and students demonstrated the ability to condense a surface area the size of a football field, into just one gram of mass – about the same as a paperclip – that acts as a sponge for CO2.
“This innovative hybrid porous material has so far proven to be more effective, requires less heating and cooling, and captures more CO2 than current materials,” said ExxonMobil’s Vijay Swarup.
According to Exxon, additional research and development will be needed to progress this technology to a larger scale pilot and ultimately to industrial scale.
Shares in XOM have plunged 38% year-to-date, and analysts have a cautious Hold consensus on the stock. That’s with 12 recent hold ratings, vs just 1 buy rating and 3 sell ratings. Meanwhile the average analyst price target stands at $48 (11% upside potential).
“ExxonMobil has historically been one of the most successful super-majors at investing through the business cycle and taking advantage of downturns by lowering its cost structure and high-grading its asset base. Unfortunately, its current efforts have been overrun by a weaker macro, leaving it in a challenging position” he adds.” comments RBC Capital’s Biraj Borkhataria.
The analyst has a sell rating on the stock and $45 price target, adding “XOM must lean on its balance sheet heavily in order to stay the course. With limited visibility on a full recovery, we can see why this makes investors nervous.” (See XOM stock analysis on TipRanks).