An international team of scientists, led by the University of Manchester, has developed a metal-organic framework, or MOF, material that provides a selective, fully reversible and repeatable capability to capture a toxic air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide, produced by combusting diesel and other fossil fuels.
The material then requires only water and air to convert the captured gas into nitric acid for industrial use. The mechanism for the record-breaking gas uptake by the MOF, characterized by researchers using neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, could lead to air pollution control and remediation technologies that cost-effectively remove the pollutant from the air and convert it into nitric acid for use in producing fertilizer, rocket propellant, nylon and other products.
As reported in Nature Chemistry (“Capture of nitrogen dioxide and conversion to nitric acid in a porous metal-organic framework”), the material, denoted as MFM-520, can capture atmospheric nitrogen dioxide at ambient pressures and temperatures—even at low concentrations and during flow—in the presence of moisture, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. Despite the highly reactive nature of the pollutant, MFM-520 proved capable of being fully regenerated multiple times by degassing or by treatment with water from the air—a process that also converts the nitrogen dioxide into nitric acid.

Image Credit:  ORNL


News This Week

Illuminating the world of nanoparticles

Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed a light-based device that can act as a biosensor, detecting biological substances in materials; for example, harmful pathogens in food [...]

Self-driving microrobots

Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms. If you could distribute autonomous microrobots within these materials, then you could [...]

Chemistry in the turbulent interstellar medium

Over 200 molecules have been discovered in space, some (like Buckminsterfullerene) very complex with carbon atoms. Besides being intrinsically interesting, these molecules radiate away heat, helping giant clouds of interstellar material cool and contract [...]