ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Mary Zick, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University, along with Dr. Phillip Milner, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology at the university, have invented a device that can trap carbon dioxide, a chemical that gets emitted from factories and other types of production plants, before the chemical enters the earth's atmosphere.

"You would expose the material to a stream of CO2 containing gas that kind of pull the CO2 out. You let the... CO2 free gas... be released into the atmosphere, for example. And then later you... remove the CO2 from the material to reactivate it, and then... you can now take it and, either sequester it underground or use it for chemistry," said Milner.

Soon, the invention will be tried on the smoke stacks of Cornell University's power plant.

"[We are] looking to do some more tinkering because it is not yet a perfect material," said Zick. "So we're working on trying to optimize it right now. It's a very good starting ground, but there's always improvements to make."

Scientists are looking into making the filter higher capacity or looking at making the filter out of a more stable material. The filter has a high chance of working. Scientists in the 1990's were able to isolate and stop the emission of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere from coal plants.

"The bigger picture of what Mary's work represents is... if we can really tune these materials to have different properties for different kinds of streams, you could move beyond just what's called post combustion CO2 capture - what we're talking about right now - and think about removing carbon dioxide from other sources," Milner said.

Right now, project leaders are looking at ways to remove carbon dioxide from other processes like steel and cement manufacturing, as well as bio gas.