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Intelligent design of nanoporous sorbents

Final Activity Report Summary - INDENS (Intelligent design of nanoporous sorbents)

The INDENS project aimed at training young research fellows via a system of research through pan-European collaborations. From a scientific point of view, the project aimed at the synthesis and evaluation of nanoporous materials in view of the adsorption and diffusion of greenhouse gases. This approach was taken in order to render the group aware to problems surrounding these environmentally important gases. In this context, XX young research fellows were trained to a PhD level and YY young researchers were hired as post-doctoral fellows.

The following three families of nanoporous materials were studied:
1. aluminosilicate zeolites. This well known family of materials was taken as standard samples, especially the faujasite NaY. Furthermore, the MCM49 family of materials was equally studied. These latter solids were post-synthesis' treated to open the porous structure and allow for a better accessibility to specific adsorption sites within the pore architecture.
2. silicoaluminophosphate (SAPO) zeotypes. This less wide family of materials was selected since they were related to zeolites, nevertheless they generally possessed less strong specific adsorption sites for carbon dioxide. Therefore, it was thought to have materials that significantly adsorbed these gases but were able to be regenerated under milder conditions than zeolites. In this project, STA7 was extensively used and characterised by the majority of groups utilising the variety of experimental and theoretical available methods. Novel SAPO materials were equally developed in this project, notably STA14, which was the fruit of modelling and synthesis collaboration.
3. metal organic frameworks (MOFs). At the of the project beginning, a number of interesting results were obtained with MOFs in literature. Thus, some initial studies were carried out using such materials. Some of the obtained results were of sufficient interest to become the starting point for other planned industrial leading projects.

The various samples were tested using unique experimental approaches, such as adsorption microcalorimetry, quasi-elastic neutron scattering and impedance light scattering. Interesting materials were tested with respect to PSA type applications with breakthrough curves. This experimental characterisation was mirrored by a number of computer simulation studies using grand canonical Monte Carlo, molecular dynamics and a novel method that was developed within the project and was based on a second order Markov process.

Overall, several scientific breakthroughs were made in terms of new materials, novel methods and results of interest for future development.

From a training perspective, the young researchers participated in a trans-skills workshop on top of the usual training which was internally provided and included scientific modules, language skills, workshops and international conferences. The eventual goal of the project was to train researchers in a field of current and future interest. By the time of the project completion, it was too soon to prove whether the various research fellows would find positions in this specific field. Nevertheless, it could be noted that two had already found full employment, four had ongoing research positions and around two thirds of the young researchers remained within Europe, even though outside their country of origin.