Increased selectivity reduces separation costs.
A major part of the global economy relies on the use of porous solids for a range of industrial processes that separate and purify the chemicals that we encounter in our daily lives. The performance of MOFs has surpassed many existing materials used in these applications, on account of their unrivalled surface areas, regularity and customisable structure. The use of MOFs will bring reduced costs and reduced toxic waste whilst being able to target specific hydrocarbons.
Natural Gas Processing
When natural gas is extracted, it usually contains contaminants including carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide that are highly corrosive to the infrastructure used to compress and transport the gas. Removal of these contaminants is typically achieved using amine gas scrubbing, a highly energy-intensive process that is also extremely corrosive and toxic, requiring specially designed tanks and careful handling. MOFs are a non-toxic, cost-effective alternative to amines for natural gas processing. They possess clear performance advantages, with higher capacities, greater selectiveness and require relatively mild conditions for regeneration, thus reducing energy requirements.
The separation of light hydrocarbons is one of the most important processes in industry.
High-purity propylene and ethylene are required to produce the plastics used in consumer products, whilst acetylene is an important starting material in the petrochemical and electronic industries.
These separations are some of the most energy-intensive industrial chemical processes and MOFs will allow for significant reduction in energy requirements and costs by removing the process of cryogenic cooling. An additional benefit is that the pore size and chemical composition of the MOF can selectively and efficiently capture the individual hydrocarbons.