A new method of developing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) has made them completely environmentally friendly. They are not only capable of detecting, capturing and storing CO2, but are largely made of it as well.
They are in fact so green that you could eat them, if you’d want to.
Some applications MOFs are used for are gas purification, separation and storage, including hydrogen and CO2 storage. The trouble with conventional MOFs however is that they are often made out of materials derived from crude oil with toxic heavy metals incorporated into them.
A large number of researchers are currently working on improving conventional MOFs’ capabilities as a hydrogen storage material.
Yellow to red
The research team of Northwestern University already published the development of the material a year ago, but only now discovered its reactivity with CO2 and published their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The sponge made of nanostructures is capable of absorbing and releasing CO2 and when fully saturated it turns from yellow to red, making it an efficient CO2 detection device as well.
But what is best about the new nano-sponge is that it is made of plant derived sugar and alcohol with some metals from naturally occurring salts added to the mix. This makes a device that is quite useful as CO2 storage, truly environmentally friendly, instead of petroleum based and heavy metal riddled with a possible intent to improve the environment.
The fact that the new MOFs are cheap to produce makes it a new win of a biobased economy over a petroleum based society, albeit a small one. And who knows, maybe the new material may even prove more efficient at storing hydrogen than conventional MOFs.
© Jorn van Dooren | www.bitsofscience.org