Development of Molecular Encapsulation Technologies for Gas Storage without Sustained Pressure

Project: Research

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The capability to store and release gas in high capacity and in an easy, safe, and controlled manner is a key technology highly sought by gas industry – a major component of the global economy. The objective of this project is to develop a novel gas storage technology capable of realizing high capacity storage and facile release at mild operating conditions.Unlike the conventional equilibrium adsorption-based gas storage in porous solids where very high pressure and/or low temperature are necessary to attain high gas storage capacity, a new approach is proposed in this project that features “encapsulating” a large amount of gases in the nano-containers of porous crystalline materials through “regulating” pore-keeping groups at ambient pressure and temperature. This builds on our recent breakthrough in the understanding of temperature-regulated guest admission behaviour on “molecular trapdoor” adsorbents. Modulating the nano-containers and regulating the pore-keeping groups will allow for high capacity gas storage without sustained external pressure.The proposed study will employ combined numerical simulation (ab-initioDFT calculations) and experiments to establish design guidelines for constructing porous nano-containers with various pore-keeping groups and to develop a novel core-shell structure, so as to tune the gas encapsulation temperature and maximize the storage capacity. To demonstrate the design potential of the new gas storage approach, high capacity adsorbents ranging from zeolites to selected metal-organic frameworks will be fitted with the pore-keeping groups. This effort will substantially enrich the materials design toolbox and present a major step forward in future generation of tailor-made gas storage solids. Extensive experimental characterizations (e.g., SEM, TEM,in-situsynchrotron powder X-ray diffraction, and Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy (PALS)) will be conducted to obtain an in-depth understanding of our new materials. Methane storage and release experiments will be conducted to showcase the realworld performance of this gas encapsulation approach. This innovation can potentially bring tens of billions of dollars of profits for industries relying on gas storage, such as storage of on-board gas fuels, capture of harmful gases and sequestration, and dispense of medical gases. This technology can be potentially applied to Hong Kong’s offshore natural gas storage unit to increase the storage capacity and operating safety, which helps strengthen the energy security of this land-constrained city.


Project number9042667
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …