Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Direct Utilization of Elemental Sulfur for Microporous Polymer Synthesis


Using elemental sulfur as an alternative chemical feedstock, KAIST researchers have produced novel microporous polymers to sift CO2 from methane in natural-gas processing.

Methane, a primary component of natural gas, has emerged recently as an important energy source, largely owing to its abundance and relatively clean nature compared with other fossil fuels. In order to use natural gas as a fuel, however, it must undergo a procedure called “hydrodesulfurization” or “natural gas sweetening” to reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. This process leads to excessive and involuntary production of elemental sulfur. Although sulfur is one of the world’s most versatile and common elements, it has relatively few large-scale applications, mostly for gunpowder and sulfuric acid production.

Figure 1. A Schematic Image of Direct Utilization of Elemental Sulfur This image shows direct utilization of elemental sulfur in the synthesis of microporous polymers and its gas separation performance.

Figure 2. BTAP’s Breakthrough Experiment under Pre-mixed Gas Conditions This data presents the breakthrough measurements for CO2-containing binary gas-mixture streams with different feed-gas compositions to investigate the CO2 capture capacity of ultramicroporous benzothiazole polymers (BTAPs) for large-scale applications under simulated conditions of natural and landfill gases.

Thus, the development of synthetic and processing methods to convert sulfur into useful chemicals remains a challenge. A research team led by Professor Ali Coskun from the Graduate School of EEWS (Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability) at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has recently introduced a new approach to resolving this problem by employing elemental sulfur directly in the synthesis of microporous polymers for the process of natural-gas sweetening.

Natural gas, containing varying amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), is generally treated with amine solutions, followed by the regeneration of these solutions at increased temperatures to release captured CO2 and H2S. A two-step separation is involved in removing these gases. The amine solutions first remove H2S, and then CO2 is separated from methane (CH4) with either amine solutions or porous sorbents such as microporous polymers.

Using elemental sulfur and organic linkers, the research team developed a solvent and catalyst-free strategy for the synthesis of ultramicroporous benzothiazole polymers (BTAPs) in quantitative yields. BTAPs were found to be highly porous and showed exceptional physiochemical stability. In-situ chemical impregnation of sulfur within the micropores increased CO2 affinity of the sorbent, while limiting diffusion of CH4. BTAPs, as low-cost, scalable solid-sorbents, showed outstanding CO2 separation ability for flue gas, as well as for natural and landfill gas conditions.

The team noted that: “Each year, millions of tons of elemental sulfur are generated as a by-product of petroleum refining and natural-gas processing, but industries and businesses lacked good ideas for using it. Our research provides a solution: the direct utilization of elemental sulfur into the synthesis of ultramicroporous polymers that can be recycled back into an efficient and sustainable process for CO2 separation. Our novel polymeric materials offer new possibilities for the application of a little-used natural resource, sulfur, to provide a sustainable solution to challenging environmental issues.”

Media Contact: Lan Yoon
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Tel. +82-42-350-2294, +82-10-2539-4303 (cell phone)

Associated links

Journal information

This work was published online in Chem on September 8, 2016 and also highlighted in C&EN (Chemical & Engineering News) by the American Chemical Society (ACS) on September 19, 2016. The research paper was entitled “Direct Utilization of Elemental Sulfur in the Synthesis of Microporous Polymers for Natural Gas Sweetening.” (DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2016.08.003)

Lan Yoon | Research SEA
Further information:

Further reports about: CO2 KAIST Microporous carbon dioxide fossil fuels natural gas natural resource porous sulfur

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>