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MOFCAT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 33335
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Norway

Novel crystal structures for industrial reactions

Crystalline solids with well defined pores characterised by their shapes, sizes and the chemical entities present are widely used in a number of technologies to control reactions. EU-funded researchers developed and prepared new metal organic frameworks (MOFs) that have the potential to overcome the limitations of conventional crystalline solids, enhancing European competitiveness in a very large market sector.
Novel crystal structures for industrial reactions
MOFs have a high density of pores and thus very large surface area for binding, as well as the ability to be specialised via the use of functional chemical additions. Such properties make them particularly attractive for a number of reactions.

Catalysis reactions rely on a small quantity of catalyst to selectively and reversibly bind to chemicals, bringing them together and speeding up the rate with which reactions occur and thus facilitating the amplification of product quantity. They are particularly favoured by the microporous structure that in essence acts as a small selective corral bringing together the molecules and enabling binding in a productive way.

In addition, microporous crystalline solids are well suited to adsorption reactions in which certain molecules bind to a surface while others do not thus enabling separation or purification. The aforementioned application can be extended to produce enhanced sensor technology via filtering to improve selectivity as well as to facilitate gas storage.

The ‘Functional metal organic frameworks as heterogeneous catalysts’ (Mofcat) project was initiated to develop reliable, consistent and scalable synthesis processes for existing and novel MOFs of particular industrial importance.

The researchers worked on two MOF families, the previously developed CPO-27-M family, where M=nickel, magnesium, cobalt or manganese, and the zirconium based UiO-66 family. A combination of spectroscopic analysis and quantum chemical modelling enabled excellent characterisation of the structures. Furthermore, the CPO-27-M family, with its numerous possible M elements, enabled direct comparison of the reactivity of different metals within the same MOF structure. Importantly, the investigators realised scaled-up production of both MOF families establishing industrial relevance.

Both families stored significant amounts of hydrogen gas at low temperature, with additional significant methane storage capability demonstrated for CPO-27-Ni (M=nickel) even in pellet form, again supporting potential industrial application. In addition, the Mofcat team produced novel MOF catalysts, some of which demonstrated nearly twice the activity of the commercial competitor.

In summary, the Mofcat project team made significant advances in the field of MOFs for industrial application, in particular for gas storage and as catalysts, with the potential to greatly enhance European competitiveness in a large and lucrative world market sector.

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