MOFs – Game Changing Materials for Gas Separation, Storage and Delivery Processes
MOFs are a disruptive technology creating new possibilities for gas storage, separation, detection, and delivery due to their bespoke and flexible nature. They are enabling the highly targeted capturing of gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane, creating new levels of gas purity, and significantly boosting gas storage capacities.
What are MOFs?
MOFs are hybrid inorganic-organic crystalline materials with a network of small holes (pores) running throughout— with similarities to a sponge. Within MOFs, the inorganic groups are metal ions bound to each other by flexible organic groups (linkers). The regular network of metal and organic ions binds the MOF structure together and creates unique and highly ordered pore geometries.
How do MOFs Improve the Quality of Life?
Despite being a relatively new class of materials, MOFs are already starting to shape the quality of everyday life and are enabling the more efficient use of natural resources.
+ Make air breathable again and help solve the current climate crisis.
+ Boost food production capacity and reduce food waste.
+ Facilitate the production of higher-performing and more reliable microprocessors needed for the 4th Industrial revolution.
+ Enable new and sustainable processes for water production.
+ Provide higher protection rates and treatment efficacy against biological and chemical hazards.
What’s so Special About MOFs?
The variety and potential use of MOFs is inspiring, with over 90,000 different MOF structures having been described, their application range from keeping fruit and vegetables fresher for longer, storing toxic and explosive gases more efficiently, and providing new layers of respiratory protection against toxic gases. The freedom to manipulate the shape, size, and chemistry of the pores within these gas sponges is creating new possibilities for gas separation, storage, and delivery. Their bespoke and flexible designs are enabling the highly targeted capturing of gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane, creating new levels of gas purity, and boosting gas storage capacities. Their huge internal pore volumes are enabling the safe storage of unprecedented amounts of gas—offering one of the highest storage capabilities per area of any material.
Overcoming the Challenges of MOFs
Like any advanced material, MOFs have had their fair share of challenges over the years. These novel compounds have had a reputation for being expensive, sensitive to moisture, only available in fine powdered form, and unproven outside the lab. Whilst many remain unaware of the opportunities that MOFs could create, those who may be familiar may be put off by some of the myths that precede their use.
Since its inception, MOF Technologies has collected valuable experience in designing, synthesizing, and testing MOFs for specific commercial applications. MOF Tech has a successful track record of focusing on the relevant hurdles which held back progress for MOFs in the past:
a) “MOFs are too expensive vs. currently used alternatives.”
False – MOF Tech has successfully co-developed several MOFs which are proven more economically viable on a per-product basis than the incumbent, e.g. highly specialised activated carbon or catalyst systems.
b) “MOFs are too sensitive to environmental conditions.”
False - MOF Tech has developed a proprietary process that has enabled the creation of a new family of stabilised MOFs. These, once considered ‘unusable’ MOFs, are now unlocking new possibilities for gas storage, separation, and delivery.
c) “MOFs are not widely available in shaped forms, ready for commercial applications”
False – MOF Tech has developed an innovative shaping technology enabling us to supply mechanically resistant MOFs, uncompromised on porosity. Combining our expertise in MOF synthesis with our knowledge in adsorbent shaping, we’ve made MOFs widely available in an array of different shapes and sizes.
d) “MOFs are theoretically useful, but don’t actually work.”
False - As the first company to have bridged the gap between MOF science and commercial application, we continue to pioneer the MOF field. Today, MOFs are widely used in a variety of industries, from semi-conductors, power generation and cement production, to apple storage and respiratory protection.
MOF Tech has over 15-years of experience in producing MOFs, currently manufacturing seventeen MOFs at multi-tonne scale using a patented mechanochemical process. This provides freedom to operate and enables the synthesis of high-quality, shaped MOFs in commercial volumes, bypass the high-cost barriers typically associated with MOFs. Our patented production process is the lowest cost method of producing MOFs and has been acclaimed by various bodies including IUPAC and the European Commission.
We utilise our extensive knowledge of MOFs to target materials with performance potential for targeted applications and rapidly synthesize them in-house for evaluation. All new materials must possess a clear line of sight to scale up and satisfy internal scalability criteria, based on raw material cost, availability, process safety, and MOF stability. MOFs identified; their performance is then evaluated under real application conditions using custom-built testing equipment to showcase how they will perform in practice. MOF Tech also has the capabilities and know-how to subsequently enhance and optimise metal organic frameworks to suit specific processes prior to supplying commercial volumes of low-cost, high-quality shaped material.
MOFs are going to have a greater impact on several areas of our lives as they become more readily adopted. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can leverage MOFs within your industry, or how we can help to integrate MOFs into your specific application, then get in touch with the MOF Mavens to find out more.