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Energy & Science

A Material Thinner Than Human Hair Could Slash Carbon Emissions

Super-thin membrane from startup Osmoses aims to cut pollution and improve CO2 capture economics

The AEP Coal-Fired John E. Amos Power Plant As EPA Reviews MATS
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Osmoses, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff, has created a membrane material thinner than human hair to reduce carbon emissions from industrial processes such as natural gas production.

Today, businesses use an energy-intensive technique called separation to filter out the valuable methane from other gases. That often requires using fossil fuels to boil off the unwanted chemicals — a process that can account for as much as 15% of world energy demand, according to a 2016 study.