The LLNL team has been developing a portfolio of MicroEncapsulated Carbon Sorbents (MECS) which consist of permeable microcapsules containing agents that adsorb carbon dioxide. The MECS capsules perform well for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide directly from air, and then can release the captured carbon dioxide on demand into a controlled environment. There are numerous applications of MECS, but they are difficult to produce cost effectively in the high volumes needed for most practical applications.
This invention describes a multiple nozzle microfluidic unit that allows simultaneous generation streams of multiple layered coaxial liquid jets. Liquids are pumped into the device at a combined flow rate from 100 mL/hr to 10 L/hr. Droplets are created with diameters in the range of 1 µm to 5 mm and can be created with 1-2 shell layers encapsulating fluid. Droplets created from the system can then be UV cured and/or heat treated to turn into hard/soft capsules and particles. By changing fluid flow rates and liquid pinching parameters, the system can also be used to produce fibers with multiple sheath layers. Depending on the properties of the specific chemicals processed, the system could be distributing fluids radially, linearly, or hierarchically (branch). This invention will work seamlessly with LLNL’s other innovation the In-air Droplet Encapsulation Apparatus (IDEA) technology to improve production by orders of magnitude.
LLNL’s method for scaling up production of MicroEncapsulated Carbon Sorbents (MECS) has several advantages over other approaches:
- Increases production scale by orders of magnitude,
- Works seamlessly with existing LLNL MECS and IDEA technologies,
- Allows processing of difficult and/or incompatible materials,
- Low size distribution,
- Low processed material wastage,
- Can be easily disassembled for cleaning.
- Carbon capture from flue gas streams generated by fossil fuel combustion in industrial plants and operations,
- Carbon capture in breweries and soft drink manufacture,
- Carbon capture directly from indoor air to improve its quality.
Current stage of technology development: TRL 5 (April 2023)
LLNL also has filed for patent protection on this invention.
U.S. Patent No. 11,351,514 Parallelized Multiple Nozzle System and Method to Produce Layered Droplets and Fibers for Microencapsulation published 6/7/2022 (https://image-ppubs.uspto.gov/dirsearch-public/print/downloadPdf/11351514)