Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a class of materials capable of capturing five times more CO2 than conventional carbon capture techniques.
According to the team, using zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), porous and chemically robust structures with large surface areas, they can store 83 litres for every litre of ZIF.
ZIFs store gas molecules by using flaps that behave like the chemical equivalent of a revolving doors allowing certain molecules, in this case CO2, to pass through and enter the reservoir while blocking larger molecules or molecules of different shapes.
Zeolites are made from aluminium, silicon and oxygen, and are also used in petroleum refining, detergents and other products. In this work the team replaced the aluminium or silicon with metal ions such as zinc and cobalt.
‘The selectivity of ZIFs to CO2 is unparalleled by any other material,’ said Professor Omar Yaghi, who directs of UCLA’s Center for Reticular Chemistry.
The team are investigating different ZIFs and their potential applications.