THUWAL, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Researchers in Saudi Arabia have developed a material capable of absorbing and trapping carbon dioxide, even at concentration as low as 400 parts per million.
The technology relies on the porosity of metal-organic frameworks, a class of materials prized for their ability to absorb and trap gases. MOFs are made up of small clusters of metal ions, organized and bound by organic ligands, or "linker" molecules.
Different combinations of ions and ligands can yield MOFs with a variety of potentially valuable qualities.
"The discovery of this latest material for capturing carbon dioxide is the result of about four to five years of work on this unique MOF platform," Mohamed Eddaoudi, a materials scientist at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, said in a news release.
Scientists have previously developed MOF materials capable of trapping carbon dioxide, but never at such low concentrations with minimal energy requirements.
The material consists of nickle ions organized by linker molecules comprised of niobium, oxygen and the fluorine atoms.
"The ability to control the distance between the fluorine atoms allowed us to create the ideal square-shaped pockets for trapping carbon dioxide molecules effectively and efficiently and giving our material such impressive performance," Eddaoudi explained.
The new material -- described in the Journal of American Chemical Science -- could be installed in exhaust pipes in cars and factories like other similar MOFs, but its ability to capture CO2 at low concentrations could allow it to clean open air.
"We are now working to scale up the use of this material, allowing us to seek industry collaboration towards eventual commercialization," Eddaoudi said.