A major focus of our research group is the design and study of metal organic frameworks porous, inorganic solids built of metal nodes connected by organic linkers that are of interest for applications ranging from gas storage and molecular separations to catalysis and battery applications.
Industrial separations account for a staggering 10 15 of the total global energy consumption, and developing more efficient separations processes is a therefore key strategy toward reducing worldwide energy consumption. Additionally, now more than ever global warming is necessitating a dramatic reduction in our global greenhouse emissions. One of the most promising short term emissions mitigation strategies and therefore a crucial separations need is the removal of CO 2 directly from the flue gas streams of coal and natural gas fired power plants. Toward this end, we are studying a new class of diamine appended frameworks developed in our group that exhibit high CO 2 separation capacities in the presence of water, with minimal energy requirements arising from an unprecedented cooperative adsorption mechanism. Beyond terrestrial separations technologies, we are seeking to optimize this cooperative mechanism for applications as far reaching as air purification in submarines and spacecraft, and are applying fundamental insights from this work to the design of novel materials and mechanisms for the cooperative adsorption of other key, industrially relevant gas molecules.
Seeking to capitalize on the separation capabilities of our best performing framework materials and the robust nature of polymer membranes, we are also designing metal organic framework/polymer composites toward the development of novel membranes that exhibit high selectivities and permeabilities for applications ranging from the purification of natural gas to olefin/paraffin separations.