New York: With molecules that self-assemble into a lightweight structure, researchers have developed a material that can capture large quantities of several potent greenhouse gases.
“We developed a molecule that self-assembles into a structure that can capture these greenhouse vapors to the tune of 75 percent by weight,” said lead researcher Ognjen Miljani, associate professor of chemistry at University of Houston.
Besides carbon dioxide, some potent greenhouse gas compounds include Freons, used as common refrigerants, and fluorocarbons, highly stable organic compounds in which one or more hydrogen atoms have been replaced with fluorine.
"This molecule could be used to capture Freons from disposed refrigeration systems, for example, or to concentrate them prior to analysis of their content," Miljani explained.
A small molecule based on an extensively fluorinated backbone will form a structure with extremely small pores about 1.6 nanometers in diameter, the researchers noted.
"These tiny pores are lined with fluorine atoms, giving them a high affinity for other molecules containing fluorine - such as fluorocarbons and Freons," Miljani pointed out.
Porous materials with similar pore sizes have been developed in previous studies, but those materials were often heavy, because of the presence of metals, as well as sensitive to water and difficult to process and recycle.
"The advantages of the current material is that it is stable to water and composed from individual molecules held together only by weak interactions," Miljani said.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Communications.