First 'porous liquid' invented

November 11, 2015
Researchers at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, have made the world's first 'porous liquid' with potential application for carbon capture. Credit: Queen's University Belfast

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have made a major breakthrough by making a porous liquid - with the potential for a massive range of new technologies including 'carbon capture'.

Researchers in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's, along with colleagues at the University of Liverpool and other, international partners, have invented the new and found that it can dissolve unusually large amounts of gas, which are absorbed into the '' in the liquid. The results of their research are published today in the journal Nature.

The three-year research project could pave the way for many more efficient and greener chemical processes, including ultimately the procedure known as carbon capture - trapping carbon dioxide from major sources, for example a fossil-fuel power plant, and storing it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

Professor Stuart James of Queen's School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering said: "Materials which contain permanent holes, or pores, are technologically important. They are used for manufacturing a range of products from plastic bottles to petrol. However, until recently, these have been solids. What we have done is to design a special liquid from the 'bottom-up' - we designed the shapes of the molecules which make up the liquid so that the liquid could not fill up all the space. Because of the empty holes we then had in the liquid, we found that it was able to dissolve unusually large amounts of gas. These first experiments are what is needed to understand this new type of material, and the results point to interesting long-term applications which rely on dissolution of gases.

"A few more years' research will be needed, but if we can find applications for these porous liquids they could result in new or improved chemical processes. At the very least, we have managed to demonstrate a very new principle - that by creating holes in liquids we can dramatically increase the amount of gas they can dissolve. These remarkable properties suggest interesting applications in the long term."

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, have made the world's first 'porous liquid' with potential application for carbon capture. Credit: Queen's University Belfast

Explore further: Researchers develop technology to reduce cost of purifying natural gas

More information: Nicola Giri et al. Liquids with permanent porosity, Nature (2015). DOI: 10.1038/nature16072

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rwooten
5 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2015
Woh similar to the water and air purifiers from Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age". Just need to start running all our water and air through this, separate the filtered material into specific elements, pump all that raw material into snazzy 3D printers and bam! The Feed is born.
Gimp
5 / 5 (4) Nov 11, 2015
seems it might be an efficient way to safely store hydrogen, leave the tank full of liquid then simply replenish the gas.
chloe2013025
not rated yet Nov 12, 2015
Is there any case that the liquid could fill up all the space?
Bulbuzor
not rated yet Nov 12, 2015
seems it might be an efficient way to safely store hydrogen, leave the tank full of liquid then simply replenish the gas.


That seems like a legit way to store it indeed! I'm not sure but I'd guess it's less explosive as well, now I wonder if there is a way to get it out of the liquid efficiently.
baudrunner
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 12, 2015
So what? You can still store way more gas in an empty container than if you filled the container with porous liquid first and then filled it with the gas. Suggesting gas storage as an application is just bad speculation. Like my mother used to say, "think before you speak!"
TiagoTiago
5 / 5 (3) Nov 12, 2015
So what? You can still store way more gas in an empty container than if you filled the container with porous liquid first and then filled it with the gas. Suggesting gas storage as an application is just bad speculation. Like my mother used to say, "think before you speak!"


The thing is, hydrogen is so thin, it will leak even from a sealed container; but if it's dissolved into something else, it doesn't escape as easily.
baudrunner
not rated yet Nov 12, 2015
You're right about hydrogen permeating everything Tiago, but the article doesn't mention hydrogen, just gas in general. There are any number of specialty gases that might apply ( http://www.middle...ases.php ). There's probably a good reason that hydrogen wasn't mentioned - it would probably leak out of the porous liquid, too.
TiagoTiago
not rated yet Nov 12, 2015
You're right about hydrogen permeating everything Tiago, but the article doesn't mention hydrogen, just gas in general. There are any number of specialty gases that might apply ( http://www.middle...ases.php ). There's probably a good reason that hydrogen wasn't mentioned - it would probably leak out of the porous liquid, too.


Hm, it wouldn't "prefer" the dissolved state?
baudrunner
not rated yet Nov 13, 2015
Hm, it wouldn't "prefer" the dissolved state?
I am going out on a limb here, but from the looks of things, the liquid's molecules are probably pretty stable, and too large to trap hydrogen at all. It would probably just displace the gas.

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