Self-Accelerating CO Sorption in a Soft Nanoporous Crystal

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Science  10 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6167, pp. 167-170
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246423

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Soft, Selective CO Sorption

Many industrial processes produce CO, which could be used as a chemical feedstock, but separation of CO from other gases, especially N2, is too difficult to be economically viable. Sato et al. (p. 167, published online 12 December 2013) now report that a porous coordination polymer containing Cu2+ ions can selectivity bind CO through serial structural changes reminiscent of allosteric effects in proteins. The separation of CO-N2 mixtures can be achieved with a low input energy for CO desorption.


Carbon monoxide (CO) produced in many large-scale industrial oxidation processes is difficult to separate from nitrogen (N2), and afterward, CO is further oxidized to carbon dioxide. Here, we report a soft nanoporous crystalline material that selectively adsorbs CO with adaptable pores, and we present crystallographic evidence that CO molecules can coordinate with copper(II) ions. The unprecedented high selectivity was achieved by the synergetic effect of the local interaction between CO and accessible metal sites and a global transformation of the framework. This transformable crystalline material realized the separation of CO from mixtures with N2, a gas that is the most competitive to CO. The dynamic and efficient molecular trapping and releasing system is reminiscent of sophisticated biological systems such as heme proteins.

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