Researchers at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, have discovered a unique, efficient, inexpensive and reusable metal-organic framework (MOF) material for carbon capture and separation that could lead to new clean-air and energy saving technologies.
The material is a crystal whose atoms form a three-dimensional lattice with holes that snare molecules of carbon-dioxide but allow other molecules in air to pass. SIFSIX-1-Cu is an adaptation of a material created more than 15 years ago and is named hexafluorosilicate, after the chemical component that led to its special properties.
Porous SIFSIX materials are built from combinations of inorganic and organic chemical building blocks and are part of a general class of materials known as Metal-Organic Materials, or “MOMs”.
The MOF materials will be particularly effective at carbon-dioxide capture from flue gas, which is the main source of anthropogenic carbon-dioxide emissions and the greenhouse gas effect. Scientists expect improvements in clean fossil fuel technologies because some 20 to 30 percent of the power output from clean fossil fuel plants is consumed by cleaning processes. The new materials could make those plants more efficient and thus allow more power to end up in the grid.
The next step is to collaborate with process engineers to determine how the materials can be manufactured on the industrial scale and put to use to save energy, reduce carbon emissions and capture carbon-dioxide before it enters the atmosphere.
The research, funded by a KAUST-sponsored faculty-initiated collaboration grant and published in the journal Nature, offers new tools for confronting the world’s challenges in controlling carbon dioxide emissions.