Bringing MOFs into the industrial light

A major breakthrough that could change the ways gases, liquids and chemicals are collected and filtered by industry. 

Scanning Electron Microscopy image of a MOF glass. Credit: Shane Telfer, MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand
Scanning Electron Microscopy image of a MOF glass. Credit: Shane Telfer, MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand

In a collaboration of International group, scientists at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have made a major breakthrough that could change the ways gases, liquids and chemicals are collected and filtered by industry.

Melting Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) into a thin coating called “porous glass” could retain much of MOFs amazing filtering characteristics.

Normally found in powder or pellet shape, MOFs contain a great many microscopic sponge-like pores. Such a large number of in truth they have the biggest surface region of any known substance. A solitary teaspoon of MOFs power can have indistinguishable surface territory from a football field. These minuscule pores can be utilized to store, separate, secure and sensing molecules.

When melting down into a porous glass, MOFs can retain 70 percent of the pores and 60 percent of the internal surface area they had as a powder.

Paper co-author Dr. Cara Doherty said “This research could help move MOFs into a mainstream industry by sparking a new wave of industrial innovation and technological breakthrough. While there are more than 20,000 different types of MOFs, only seven are commercially available. We aim to change that.”

“By using a thin, nano-porous MOFs coating instead of bulky pellets or powder we can potentially now use MOFs at a previously unimaginable scale.”

Current production methods for porous glass are complex, difficult and result in large pore sizes. This new research could also lead to a simpler way to produce better porous glass; a material found in electrodes, chromatography, medical devices, desiccants, coatings, and membranes.

Dr. Anita Hill—Executive Director of CSIRO’s Future Industries group said, “It’s great to see a truly international collaboration like this at work, especially to be working alongside colleagues like Dr. Thomas Bennett from the University of Cambridge. As well as his work with Cambridge, Thomas also holds a visiting scientist position at CSIRO.”

Eleven universities and research organizations from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Slovenia, China, Turkey, and New Zealand were involved in the research.

CSIRO is globally recognized for their work on MOFs, with more than 100 papers, 20 patents, numerous high profile awards and an extensive history of industry partnerships.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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