[Nat Mater] Faster, Cheaper Gas and Liquid Separation Using Custom Designed and Built Mesoscopic Structures
June 25, 2012
Kyoto, Japan -- In what may prove to be a significant boon for industry, separating mixtures of liquids or gasses has just become considerably easier.
Using a new process they describe as "reverse fossilization," scientists at Kyoto University's WPI Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) have succeeded in creating custom designed porous substances capable of low cost, high efficiency separation.
The process takes place in the mesoscopic realm, between the nano- and the macroscopic, beginning with the creation of a shaped mineral template, in this case using alumina, or aluminum oxide. This is then transformed into an equivalently shaped lattice consisting entirely of porous coordination polymer (PCP) crystals, which are themselves hybrid assemblies of organic and mineral elements.
"After creating the alumina lattice," explains team leader Assoc. Prof. Shuhei Furukawa, "we transformed it, molecule for molecule, from a metal structure into a largely non-metallic one. Hence the term 'reverse fossilization,' taking something inorganic and making it organic, all while preserving its shape and form."
After succeeding in creating both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional test architectures using this technique, the researchers proceeded to replicate an alumina aerogel with a highly open, sponge-like macro-structure, in order to test its utility in separating water and ethanol.
"Water/ethanol separation has not been commonly possible using existing porous materials," elaborates Dr. Julien Reboul. "The PCP-based structures we created, however, combine the intrinsic nano-level adsorptive properties of the PCPs themselves with the meso- and macroscopic properties of the template aerogels, greatly increasing separation efficiency and capacity."
Lab head and iCeMS Deputy Director Prof. Susumu Kitagawa sees the team's achievement as a significant advance. "To date, PCPs have been shown on their own to possess highly useful properties including storage, catalysis, and sensing, but the very utility of the size of their nanoscale pores has limited their applicability to high throughput industrial processes.
Mesoscopic architectures of porous coordination polymers fabricated by pseudomorphic replication
Julien Reboul, Shuhei Furukawa, Nao Horike, Manuel Tsotsalas, Kenji Hirai, Hiromitsu Uehara, Mio Kondo, Nicolas Louvain, Osami Sakata & Susumu Kitagawa
Nature Materials | DOI:10.1038/nmat3359 | Published June 24, 2012
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- Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (June 25, 2012 page 11)
- Nikkei Biotech (June 25, 2012 web)
- Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (June 25, 2012 page 17)
- Mainichi Shimbun (June 25, 2012 page 3) | Yahoo! News Japan
- Mynavi News (June 25, 2012 web)
- Kyoto Shimbun (June 25, 2012 page 22)
- Fukushima-Minpo (June 25, 2012 web)
- Phys.Org (2012.6.24) 、ScienceDaily (2012.6.24) 、Nanowerk (2012.6.24) and others based on EurekAlert! (2012.6.24)