Issue Date: February 15, 2016
MOFs That Take The Heat And Keep Working
Most of today’s industrial-scale chemical processes are catalyzed by metal or metal oxide particles dispersed on a handful of support materials, such as alumina, silica, and activated carbon. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have attracted interest as catalyst supports, because unlike common supports they can be custom-designed to boost catalyst performance, for example by holding metal atoms on interior surfaces where they can better interact with molecules entering the framework. But most MOFs decompose below 300 °C, which is too low for many industrial processes, and they can’t tolerate extended reaction times. Two studies published by collaborative research teams from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Northwestern University; and other institutions indicate that MOFs may yet have a future as robust catalyst supports. One study reveals that condensing tetramethylorthosilicate in the pores of MOF NU-1000 keeps the MOF’s oxozirconium clusters catalytically active, even after heating in air to 600 °C (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b12688). The other study shows that a nickel-modified version of NU-1000 doesn’t deactivate, even after two weeks of continuous use as a hydrogenation catalyst (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b12515).
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