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USF Chemists Create New Material For Cleaner Air

A team of students and faculty at the University of South Florida have developed a material that will provide more efficient, less costly removal of carbon dioxide from the environment.

The team worked with faculty members from King Adullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on a collaborative research grant with the goal of finding a new compound for more efficient carbon capture and separation. Challenges with existing materials include high energy costs associated with the separation and purification process. The new material is not only more cost effective, but also works in the presence of water vapor, something other materials have not been able to do.

The breakthrough material, known as SIFSIX-1-Cu, was not easy to develop. The family of contents existed, but the chemists made new versions by combining inorganic and organic chemical building blocks that are part of a general class of materials known as Metal-Organic Materials, or “MOMs.” The result is a crystal that contains holes that trap molecules of CO2, but allow other molecules to pass through.

"We're in a new age of design of materials," says Mike Zaworotko, professor of chemistry at the University of South Florida. "You could say we’re more architects than chemists because we design materials to have a particular structure and properties, which was not an option in the past."

The material could have lots of practical implications for clear-air technologies that address the global challenges in controlling carbon emissions, including clean coal, natural gas purification and the purification of biogas created by plant fermentation.

The next step is to turn the material into a product and a process, which will involve more collaborative efforts and possible entrepreneurial opportunities both locally and nationally.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mike Zaworotko, University of South Florida

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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