SAMMS nanoporous material, originally designed to remove chemical and nuclear contaminants from liquid solutions, has now been tailored to absorb carbon dioxide from breathing air submarines.
Creators of a nanotech-based system that captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a submarine while providing a more environmentally friendly removal process have won the Federal Laboratory Consortium Interagency Partnership Award for 2012. The technology — Self Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports, or SAMMS — is destined for incorporation into future submarines.

The FLC's Interagency Partnership Award acknowledges the collaborative relationship among the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, Ship Systems Engineering Station, and the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command.

The new system demonstrated that it can replace a bulky, heavy, corrosive and malodorous liquid process that produces a significant organic solvent waste stream used for more than half of a century by the U.S. Navy. "This is a new application of a technology that was previously developed by PNNL to remove heavy metal contamination from ground and surface waters found at many DOE waste sites," said PNNL material scientist Glen Fryxell, one of the inventors of the SAMMS technology.

The SAMMS materials can absorb large quantities of liquid and airborne contaminants without creating secondary waste, and is disposable as nonhazardous waste. The technology is based on a new class of hybrid nanoporous materials that can rapidly capture contaminants such as carbon dioxide, mercury, or arsenic directly from the atmosphere or liquid environments. For air rejuvenation systems, SAMMS can provide a controlled release of the carbon dioxide using a gentle application of heat or vacuum.