Pore chemistry and size control in hybrid porous materials for acetylene capture from ethylene

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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 141-144
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf2458

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Separating one organic from another

Separating closely related organic molecules is a challenge (see the Perspective by Lin).The separation of acetylene from ethylene is needed in high-purity polymer production. Cui et al. developed a copper-based metal-organic framework with hexafluorosilicate and organic linkers designed to have a high affinity for acetylene. These materials, which capture four acetylene molecules in each pore, successfully separated acetylene from mixtures with ethylene. Propane and propylene are both important feedstock chemicals. Their physical and chemical similarity, however, requires energy-intense processes to separate them. Cadiau et al. designed a fluorinated porous metal-organic framework material that selectively adsorbed propylene, with the complete exclusion of propane.

Science, this issue pp. 141 and 137; see also p. 121


The trade-off between physical adsorption capacity and selectivity of porous materials is a major barrier for efficient gas separation and purification through physisorption. We report control over pore chemistry and size in metal coordination networks with hexafluorosilicate and organic linkers for the purpose of preferential binding and orderly assembly of acetylene molecules through cooperative host-guest and/or guest-guest interactions. The specific binding sites for acetylene are validated by modeling and neutron powder diffraction studies. The energies associated with these binding interactions afford high adsorption capacity (2.1 millimoles per gram at 0.025 bar) and selectivity (39.7 to 44.8) for acetylene at ambient conditions. Their efficiency for the separation of acetylene/ethylene mixtures is demonstrated by experimental breakthrough curves (0.73 millimoles per gram from a 1/99 mixture).

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