The best way to fight carbon emissions is, of course, not to produce them in the first place; but if you can’t help generating some, what do you do? The answer comes from UK researchers: you “cage” them!
The NOTT-202 is a metal-organic framework initially intended for gas storage applications (like hydrogen), but which could very well play the main part in keeping carbon dioxide away from the atmosphere. The Nature Materials magazine tells us all about it: the structure is a honeycomb-like arrangement of tetra-carboxylate ligands – serial molecules or ions tied up to a central metal atom and filled with indium metal centres.
Basically, what results are two frameworks locked up in a double interpenetration. In English, it’s a “picky” metallic sponge: it likes to hold down carbon dioxide but absorbing air, but has nothing against releasing the nitrogen, methane and hydrogen in it. The material’s nanopores responsible for the carbon dioxide „hold-up” have the advantage of performing well even at low temperatures.
This revolutionary finding is the fruit of a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the University of Newcastle, the Diamond Light Source and STFC Daresbury Laboratory. As lead researcher Professor Martin Schröder from Nottingham University’s School of Chemistry confirmed, they couldn’t have done it without the structure determination and computational modelling.
All this was possible through the ERC Advanced Grant COORDSPACE and by an EPSRC Programme Grant ChemEnSus funding. I wonder how far this will that take us: will it help protect our environment or will it just make us more careless, knowing we have this safety net?