In silico screening of metal-organic frameworks in separation applications

Rajamani Krishna, Jasper M van Baten
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics: PCCP 2011 June 14, 13 (22): 10593-616
Porous materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) offer considerable potential for separating a variety of mixtures such as those relevant for CO(2) capture (CO(2)/H(2), CO(2)/CH(4), CO(2)/N(2)), CH(4)/H(2), alkanes/alkenes, and hydrocarbon isomers. There are basically two different separation technologies that can be employed: (1) a pressure swing adsorption (PSA) unit with a fixed bed of adsorbent particles, and (2) a membrane device, wherein the mixture is allowed to permeate through a micro-porous crystalline layer. In view of the vast number of MOFs, and ZIFs that have been synthesized there is a need for a systematic screening of potential candidates for any given separation task. Also of importance is to investigate how MOFs and ZIFs stack up against the more traditional zeolites such as NaX and NaY with regard to their separation characteristics. This perspective highlights the potency of molecular simulations in determining the choice of the best MOF or ZIF for a given separation task. A variety of metrics that quantify the separation performance, such as adsorption selectivity, working capacity, diffusion selectivity, and membrane permeability, are determined from a combination of Configurational-Bias Monte Carlo (CBMC) and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations. The practical utility of the suggested screening methodology is demonstrated by comparison with available experimental data.

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