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An international team of researchers has developed a method for purifying ethylene mixtures using a dedicated metal organic framework (MOF). Rajamani Krishna of the University of Amsterdam’s Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences contributed to the research with computer modelling and calculations. The results were recently published in Nature Communications
Representation of the modified metal organic framework ZNU-6. Images a-c show the modification procedure resulting in exquisite control of pore size, shape and chemistry; d-e represent the ZNU-6 structure with cage-like pores and interlaced channels. Image taken from the paper.

The research was for the main part carried out at Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China. Prof. Krishna assisted in assessing the performance of the customized fluorinated anion-embedded ZNU-6 MOF.  He contributed with the thermodynamics of mixture adsorption and calculations of the isosteric heats. 


Ethylene (C2H4) purification from multi-component mixtures by physical adsorption is a great challenge in the chemical industry. Herein, we report a GeF62- anion embedded MOF (ZNU-6) with customized pore structure and pore chemistry for benchmark one-step C2H4 recovery from C2H2 and CO2. ZNU-6 exhibits significantly high C2H2 (1.53 mmol/g) and CO2 (1.46 mmol/g) capacity at 0.01 bar. Record high C2H4 productivity is achieved from C2H2/CO2/C2H4 mixtures in a single adsorption process under various conditions. The separation performance is retained over multiple cycles and under humid conditions. The potential gas binding sites are investigated by density functional theory (DFT) calculations, which suggest that C2H2 and CO2 are preferably adsorbed in the interlaced narrow channel with high aff0inity. In-situ single crystal structures with the dose of C2H2, CO2 or C2H4 further reveal the realistic host-guest interactions. Notably, rare C2H2 clusters are formed in the narrow channel while two distinct CO2 adsorption locations are observed in the narrow channel and the large cavity with a ratio of 1:2, which accurately account for the distinct adsorption heat curves.

Publication details

Yunjia Jiang, Yongqi Hu, Binquan Luan, Lingyao Wang, Rajamani Krishna, Haofei Ni, Xin Hu & Yuanbin Zhang: Benchmark single-step ethylene purification from ternary mixtures by a customized fluorinated anion-embedded MOF. Nat Commun 14, 401 (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-35984-5

See also

YouTube channel of Prof. Rajamani Krishna.