4 Jun 2009

Energy Nuggets: MOF’s for CO2 Sequestration

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College
This literature discussion activity is one of a series of “Energy Nuggets,” small curricular units designed to illustrate: The Role of Inorganic Chemistry in the Global Challenge for Clean Energy Production, Storage, and Use.

This communication is a nice introduction to the field of metal organic frameworks (MOF’s) and the characterization and potential applications of porous materials.  Rather than tackling hydrogen or methane storage, materials for carbon dioxide sequestration is an often-overlooked area that offers many opportunities to discuss the same chemistry.  And while many students want to focus only on renewable energy, realizing that we will not stop burning coal anytime in the near future is an important piece of the energy challenge.  From here, one could easily continue on in the rich field of MOF’s in numerous directions.
Microsoft Office document icon EnergyNugCO2capture.doc35.5 KB
Learning Goals: 
After reading and discussing this paper, a student will be able to:
• Describe the general structural features, properties, and potential applications of a MOF (metal-organic framework)
• Distinguish between the terms physisorb and chemisorb and describe in qualitative terms how the surface areas of porous materials are characterized
• List the important factors in designing materials for hydrogen storage and/or carbon dioxide sequestration
• Understand the significance of a JACS communication including the criteria for publication
• Engage in a discussion relating a very specific area of academic research to the larger needs and challenges facing the global community
Implementation Notes: 
Out of a class of 14 students, I divided up and assigned the discussion questions so that each question was answered by 4-5 students and each student had 2-3 questions to prepare in addition to the ones assigned to everyone.  I also asked the students to begin discussing the paper online in the course Moodle forum before we met for class.
Time Required: 
1 hour discussion
Evaluation Methods: 
Students’ participation in the in-class discussion, the online class forum, and their level of effort finding the answers to the discussion questions prior to class all contribute to their evaluation for this assignment.
Evaluation Results: 
The in-class and online discussion of this paper was quite lively.  Students had a lot of questions on how surface area was measured and we looked at a number of different MOF structures to gain a sense of how vast the field was.  Students were fairly skeptical of whether or not this work satisfied the significance of a JACS communication, particularly because they did not believe these materials could be practically applied in the manner suggested by the authors.  This led to an active discussion of academic research vs. commercialization of a product, and the recent C&E News article on commercialization of MOF’s (see link above) was a perfect fit.  Most of the students did not buy the use of CO2 sequestration materials and thought that this area of research should be fairly low on the list of research funding priorities.
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


In the most recent Accounts of Chemical Research, there is a nice review of Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs) and their use as CO2 capture materials.

Acc. Chem. Res. 2010, 43, 58-67.

Later on in the same issue, there is also an article about the use of room temperature ionic liquids in CO2 capture platforms, although these systems are not inorganic.  Either or both of these articles would provide good background for this literature discussion or a similar example.

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