Greenhouse gas emissions from power stations could be significantly reduced by controlling the combustion process with tiny tubes made from an advanced ceramic material, claim engineers from Newcastle University.

The innovative material, known as LSCF, has the remarkable property of being able to filter oxygen out of the air and by burning fuel in pure oxygen it is possible to produce a stream of almost pure carbon dioxide.

LSCF is not a brand-new material and was originally developed for fuel cell technologies. Engineers at the university, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have developed it for potential use in reducing emissions for gas-fired power stations.

Professor Ian Metcalfe, one of those involved in the developing and testing of the new technology, said, $quot;The cheapest way to dispose of waste carbon dioxide from combustion is to release it into the atmosphere. We have been doing this since humans first discovered how to make fire.$quot;

Speaking of the potential this new discovery may hold, Metcalfe added, $quot;The technology we have developed may provide a viable alternative, although whether it is economical to introduce it will depend largely upon the carbon credit system that governments operate in the future.$quot;

Conventional gas-fired power stations burn methane in a stream of air and produce a mixture of nitrogen and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Separating the gases is not practical because of the high cost and energy requirements to do so, but the LSCF tubes would allow only the oxygen component of air to reach the methane gas, resulting in the production of almost pure carbon dioxide.

The research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.