University Grant Gives New Meaning to Women's Work

U-T San Diego -- University of San Diego professor Lauren Benz is exploring a way to mop up excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — and she’s extending a hand to other female scientists seeking a niche in academia.

Benz, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a $450,000 Faculty Early Career Development grant from the National Science Foundation to study “nanoporous hybrid frameworks.”

Those are compounds with microscopic holes — “nano sponges” — that can sop up and compress 50 times their volume in carbon.

“Carbon dioxide gas is known to be a major contributor to global warming, so efforts which enable or improve the capture and storage of carbon dioxide are of broad importance,” Benz said.

Nanoporous hybrid frameworks could one day be used to make more efficient catalytic converters for vehicles or highly absorptive filters for power plants, she said.

“They’re the best porous material for carbon dioxide absorption right now,” Benz said. (Full Story