MOFs provide a better way to remove water from gas

May 18, 2017, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Energy efficient gas drying achieved by a metal-organic framework. Credit: © 2017 Mohamed Eddaoudi

A breakthrough in generating water-stable metal-organic frameworks allows efficient removal of water from gases.

The conventional view that (MOFs) cannot be stable in has been overturned by the development of an MOF that can selectively and effectively adsorb water to dry gas streams.

"The achievement of energy efficient dehydration by our MOF is revolutionary," said Professor Mohamed Eddaoudi, Director of the Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials (AMPM) at the KAUST Division of Physical Science and Engineering.

Gases, such as natural gas, must be dehydrated before transportation and use to avoid problems including pipeline corrosion and blockages due to methane ice formation. Conventional drying agents require an energy-intensive regeneration cycle.

The new fluorinated MOF developed by the KAUST team achieves the drying and regeneration cycle at relatively low temperatures and requires about half the energy input of conventional procedures. This dramatic reduction in energy use highlights the obvious potential for upscaling the innovation to bring huge efficiency savings in the gas production and transport industry.

MOFs are hybrid organic-inorganic materials that contain metal ions or clusters held in place by organic molecules known as linkers. Varying the metal components and organic linkers allows researchers to fine-tune the structure and chemical properties of MOFs. A major aim of this fine-tuning is to create MOFs with cavities that will selectively bind to and retain specific molecules, such as the water that must be removed from a gas stream.

"Initially, our aim was to adapt our recently introduced fluorine-containing MOFs, to include a periodic array of open metal sites and fluorine centers in the contracted pore system, to achieve various key separations," said Eddaoudi. This exploration led to the discovery of a water-stable MOF— now labeled KAUST-8— with unique water adsorption properties and outstanding recyclable dehydration capabilities. Significantly, KAUST-8 removes carbon dioxide along with water, which is a common requirement in industrial gas processing.

"I have no doubt that this discovery will inspire scientists in academia and industry to explore MOFs to address other challenges," said Eddaoudi. The KAUST team sees additional possibilities may include the removal of water from liquids, such as inks and solvents used in the electronics industry.

Explore further: Tweaking the structure of metal-organic frameworks could transform the capacity to use methane as a fuel

More information: DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8310 A. Cadiau el al., "Hydrolytically stable fluorinated metal-organic frameworks for energy-efficient dehydration," Science (2017). http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aam8310

Related Stories

Longer-lasting pain relief with MOFs

April 26, 2017

To treat headaches, back pain or fever, most of us have reached for ibuprofen at one point or another. But we often have to take doses every four to six hours if the pain warrants it. Now scientists are working on a way to ...

Recommended for you

New theory shows how strain makes for better catalysts

April 20, 2018

Brown University researchers have developed a new theory to explain why stretching or compressing metal catalysts can make them perform better. The theory, described in the journal Nature Catalysis, could open new design ...

Machine-learning software predicts behavior of bacteria

April 19, 2018

In a first for machine-learning algorithms, a new piece of software developed at Caltech can predict behavior of bacteria by reading the content of a gene. The breakthrough could have significant implications for our understanding ...

Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

April 19, 2018

UConn researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.