Development of Active Sieving Technologies for High-Efficacy Molecular Separation

Project: Research

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Separation of gas mixtures into their pure components represents a dominant technologyin chemical engineering – accounting for up to 60% of total cost in many industrialprocesses. The objective of this project is to develop a new “active sieving” technologythat enables radically high efficiency molecular separation. This can potentially bringtens of billions of dollars in profits for industries relying on gas separations, such as fuelgas production, carbon capture and sequestration, and environmental protection.Unlike the conventional size-selective molecular sieving adsorbents that are incapable ofdistinguishing between small molecules of similar sizes, here, a new class of activesieving adsorbents are developed that feature exclusive admission of target molecules byregulating their interactions with the pore-keeping groups of the materials. This hasbeen described by a new “molecular trapdoor” effect that we reported recently.Modulation of the trapdoor allows for highly selective and thus cost-effective molecularseparation.By extending on the molecular trapdoor mechanism, the proposed study will combineexperimental and theoretical simulation investigations to establish guidelines toconstruct the active sieving adsorbents and explore the employment of external stimuli,including temperature, chemical species, and electric field, to regulate the active sievingbehaviour. This affords a revolutionary strategy to obtain highly selective adsorbents forpurpose-orientated separations. To demonstrate the design potential of the new activesieving mechanism, candidate adsorbents will be explored from zeolites to selectedmetal-organic frameworks. This will substantially enrich the materials design toolboxand present a major step forward in future generation of tailor-made adsorbents.Mixture gas separation experiments and further pressure/temperature swing adsorptionprocess tests will showcase the real-world performance of this active molecular sievingtechnology. In addition, these active sieves could also enable highly selective membranes,sensors, and catalysts.?


Project number9048102
Grant typeECS
Effective start/end date1/01/1828/12/21