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 technology in chemical engineering – accounting for up to 60% of total cost in many industrial processes. The objective of this project is to develop a new “active sieving” technology that enables radically high efficiency molecular separation. This can potentially bring tens of billions of dollars in profits for industries relying on gas separations, such as fuel gas production, carbon capture and sequestration, and environmental protection.Unlike the conventional size-selective molecular sieving adsorbents that are incapable of distinguishing between small molecules of similar sizes, here, a new class of active sieving adsorbents are developed that feature exclusive admission of target molecules by regulating their interactions with the pore-keeping groups of the materials. This has been described by a new “molecular trapdoor” effect that we reported recently. Modulation of the trapdoor allows for highly selective and thus cost-effective molecular separation.By extending on the molecular trapdoor mechanism, the proposed study will combine experimental and theoretical simulation investigations to establish guidelines to construct the active sieving adsorbents and explore the employment of external stimuli, including temperature, chemical species, and electric field, to regulate the active sieving behaviour. This affords a revolutionary strategy to obtain highly selective adsorbents for purpose-orientated separations. To demonstrate the design potential of the new active sieving mechanism, candidate adsorbents will be explored from zeolites to selected metal-organic frameworks. This will substantially enrich the materials design toolbox and present a major step forward in future generation of tailor-made adsorbents. Mixture gas separation experiments and further pressure/temperature swing adsorption process tests will showcase the real-world performance of this active molecular sieving technology. In addition, these active sieves could also enable highly selective membranes, sensors, and catalysts.?


Project number9048102
Effective start/end date1/01/18 → …