Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Precision Calcination Mechanism of CaCO 3 to High-Porosity Nanoscale CaO CO 2 Sorbent Revealed by Direct In Situ Observations



Jenny Martinez, Jenna Wardini, Xueli Zheng, Lauren Moghimi, Jason Rakowsky, Jonathan Means, Huiming Guo, Ivan Kuzmenko, Jan Ilavsky, Fan Zhang, Pratik Dholabhai, Leora Dresselhaus-Marais, William Bowman


Deploying energy storage and carbon capture at scale is hindered by the substantial endothermic penalty of decomposing CaCO3 to CaO and CO2, and the rapid loss of CO2 absorption capacity by CaO sorbent particles due to sintering at the high requisite decomposition temperatures. The decomposition reaction mechanism underlying sorbent deactivation remains unclear at the atomic level and nanoscale due to past reliance on postmortem characterization methods with insufficient spatial and temporal resolution. Thus, elucidating the important CaCO3 decomposition reaction pathway requires direct observation by time-resolved (sub-)nanoscale methods. Here, we examine chemical and structural dynamics during the decomposition of CaCO3 nanoparticles to nanoporous CaO particles comprising high-surface-area CaO nanocrystallites. Comparing in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and synchrotron X-ray diffraction experiments gave key insights into the dynamics of nanoparticle calcination, involving anisotropic CaCO3 thermal distortion before conversion to thermally dilated energetically stable CaO crystallites. Time-resolved TEM uncovered a novel CaO formation mechanism involving heterogeneous nucleation at extended CaCO3 defects followed by sweeping reaction front motion across the initial CaCO3 particle. These observations clarify longstanding, yet incomplete, reaction mechanisms and kinetic models lacking accurate information about (sub-)nanoscale dynamics, while also demonstrating calcination of CaCO3 without sintering through rapid heating and precise temperature control.
Energy and Environmental Science


calcination, structure transformation, in situ, synchrotron, transmission electron microscopy


Martinez, J. , Wardini, J. , Zheng, X. , Moghimi, L. , Rakowsky, J. , Means, J. , Guo, H. , Kuzmenko, I. , Ilavsky, J. , Zhang, F. , Dholabhai, P. , Dresselhaus-Marais, L. and Bowman, W. (2024), Precision Calcination Mechanism of CaCO 3 to High-Porosity Nanoscale CaO CO 2 Sorbent Revealed by Direct In Situ Observations, Energy and Environmental Science, [online],, (Accessed May 26, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created April 5, 2024, Updated April 15, 2024