Metal Organic Framework for cost-effective separation of petrochemicals

29 March 2012

Computer simulations carried out by professor Rajamani Krishna at the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) demonstrate the considerable potential of an iron-based 'metal organic framework' (MOF) for the separation of propene/propane and ethene/ethane mixtures. Krishna participated in international research published in this week's Science magazine.

The iron based metal organic framework Fe-MOF-74

Computer simulations carried out by professor Rajamani Krishna at the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) demonstrate the considerable potential of an iron-based 'metal organic framework' (MOF) for the separation of propene/propane and ethene/ethane mixtures. Krishna participated in international research published in this week's Science magazine.

Effective separation

Separating light hydrocarbons from a mixture traditionally requires low temperatures and expensive distillation processes. In research presented in this week's Science it was discovered that the iron-based metal organic framework (Fe-MOF-74) material is particularly good at untangling such hydrocarbons from one another, even at high temperatures.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, United States) used the MOF framework to tightly bind olefins (unsaturated carbons) to the iron centers of their material, thereby separating the olefins from other, saturated hydrocarbons. The researchers thus use their metal-organic framework to effectively separate ethane from ethylene, propane from propylene and several other light hydrocarbon mixtures.

The use of the iron-based metal organic framework (FeMOF) as adsorbent for separation of propene/propane, and ethene/ethane mixtures has been evaluated by means of computer simulations using the measured experimental data as basic inputs. These simulations, carried out by professor Rajamani Krishna of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS, Unversity of Amsterdam) further demonstrate the considerable potential of FeMOF in processes for the production of polymer-grade ethene and propene.

Cost reduction

The iron based MOF material might have industrial relevance in the refining of natural gas and the separation of the relatively light petrochemicals resulting from the processing of crude oil (in particular naphta cracking). According to the researchers the Fe-MOF-74 material may eventually be used to cut down on the costs of industrial processing of feedstock for fuels, plastics, pharmaceuticals and a wide range of other commercial products.

Full Article

Eric D. Bloch, Wendy L. Queen, Rajamani Krishna, Joseph M. Zadrozny, Craig M. Brown, Jeffrey R. Long: Hydrocarbon Separations in a Metal-Organic Framework with Open Iron(II) Coordination Sites Science, 30 March 2012, vol. 335 no.6076 pp. 1606-1610 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217544

Published by  HIMS