Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a practical method for large-scale fabrication of a miracle material, MOF-525, which could significantly impact carbon dioxide capture and conversion. Led by assistant professor Gaurav “Gino” Giri, the team’s breakthrough could help mitigate climate change and address global energy needs.

According to the article published in by Jennifer McManamay, the MOF-525 belongs to a class of materials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), characterized by their ultra-porous, crystalline structures with vast internal surface areas. These structures can trap various chemical compounds, making them ideal for applications in carbon capture and conversion.

The researchers employed a technique called solution shearing to synthesize MOF-525. In this process, the MOF components are mixed in a solution and spread across a substrate with a shearing blade. As the solution evaporates, the MOF forms as a thin film on the substrate.

This method allows for the creation of large-area membranes capable of both capturing carbon dioxide and converting it electrocatalytically into valuable chemicals like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is useful in manufacturing fuels, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

By increasing the width of the shearing blade, the surface area of the MOF membrane can be expanded, enhancing its capacity for reactions and product yield. This scalability makes the solution shearing technique highly effective for industrial applications.

Targeting CO2 conversion, the team demonstrated the feasibility of using MOF-525 for carbon capture and electrocatalytic conversion — Unlike traditional carbon capture methods, which often result in indefinite storage of CO2, this approach offers a way to convert captured CO2 into commercially valuable chemicals with minimal energy input.

The researchers’ findings were published in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, with contributions from Connor A. Koellner, Hailey Hall, Meagan R. Phister, Kevin H. Stone, Asa W. Nichols, Ankit Dhakal, and Earl Ashcraft.

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