Removing the troublesome impurities of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from natural gas could become simpler and more effective using a metal-organic framework (MOF) developed at KAUST.
Upgrading natural gas in this way could help Saudi Arabia to make greater and cleaner use of its abundant natural gas supplies, which can contain high levels of these two impurities. The technology could also promote increased use of natural gas and other industrial gases containing H2S and CO2 worldwide, to reap potentially large environmental and economic benefits.
This tailor-made MOF adsorbent removes hydrogen sulfide (yellow and grey) and carbon dioxide (black and red) contaminants from the natural gas stream for a pure methane (blue) product (right side).
Credit: © 2018 KAUST
Natural gas is largely composed of methane (CH4) and smaller quantities of other useful hydrocarbons, together with some impurities. Once stripped of contaminants, natural gas burns much more cleanly that other fossil fuels: it emits no sooty particulates as well as less CO2 and polluting oxides of nitrogen and sulfur.
This KAUST advance will support Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 program. This major initiative, aimed at reducing the Kingdom's dependence on oil and developing new environmentally sustainable technologies, includes the goal to source 70 percent of energy from natural gas.
"Meeting this challenging target will require enhanced use of sources of natural gas that initially contain significant levels of H2S and CO2," says Youssef Belmabkhout of the KAUST team.
MOFs contain metal ions or metal clusters held together by carbon-based organic chemical groups known as linkers. Rearranging different linker and inorganic molecular building blocks fine-tunes the size and chemical properties of the pore system in MOFs and enables them to perform many useful functions.
"The challenge we met in this work was to develop a fluorine-containing MOF with pores that allow equally selective adsorption of H2S and CO2 from the natural gas stream," Belmabkhout explains.
The research was performed by a group in the KAUST Advanced Membranes & Porous Materials Center, led by Professor Mohamed Eddaoudi. This center has a long history of developing MOF adsorbents for many applications, including catalysis, gas storage, gas sensing and gas separation.
"Recent advancements in MOF chemistry at KAUST have permitted the design and construction of various MOF platforms with the potential to address many challenges pertaining to energy security and environmental sustainability," says Eddaoudi.
Much of the research on upgrading natural gas was funded by the Saudi national petroleum and natural gas company Aramco. "The interest of Aramco certainly corroborates the importance of this work for the Kingdom," adds Eddaoudi.
A new project with Aramco is also underway; it will investigate scaling up the procedure in preparation for commercial exploitation. Further research on optimizing the chemical features of the MOF is also being discussed with other industrial partners.
"This is about much more than chemistry," Belmabkhout emphasizes, "It is about combining chemistry, chemical and process engineering, physics and computation together with industrial partners to advance the economic use of a natural resource."
carolyn unck | EurekAlert!
Machine learning methods provide new insights into organic-inorganic interfaces
04.08.2020 | Technische Universität Graz
Unusual electron sharing found in cool crystal
31.07.2020 | Nagoya University
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
05.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
05.08.2020 | Health and Medicine
05.08.2020 | Earth Sciences