Scaling Up MOF Production (ECR Collaboration Fund)

Dr Enrique Garcia is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RRCS) at Heriot-Watt University. Enrique received an award from the UKCCSRC ECR Collaboration Fund to travel to the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) in Swansea to optimize the scale-up of MOF production through a green rote synthesis for CO2 capture.

This project is focused on the optimization of the scale-up synthesis of MOFs for CO2 capture through a green route at room temperature and water. Nowadays, MOF synthesis is based on heating at pressures higher than atmospheric during a long period of time (more than one day). When the synthesis is scaled up the MOF properties are lost, and it is needed to identify the optimum synthesis conditions as the volume production increases in a commercially competitive way.

My work was divided into two parts. I carried out the first and main one in Swansea, in collaboration with Enrico Andreoli’s group at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI). There, I evaluated the reproducibility of the production of a specific MOF known as MIL-140 at a low scale (150 ml of volume). On this scale, I produced 4 grams of material. Once I probed the synthesis reproducibility, I evaluated the different synthesis conditions and their effect on the material properties trying to identify which ones give the best MOF with the best order structure and the closest CO2 isotherm to the theoretical one. Then, I moved to synthesize the MOF in 4 liters and a half, obtaining more than 120 grams in a short period of time considering the scale-up design of a batch reactor.

I met with external advisors from Italy as MOF synthesis experts to discuss the successful results and some unexpected conclusions.

Finally, I transferred 55 grams of the MOF synthesized at a high scale to Heriot-Watt, where I evaluated the CO2 capture at 400 C and under different CO2 concentrations, comparing the values with the ones obtained with the MOF produced under low-scale conditions and the reference material.

Enrique Garcia

The results obtained and the conclusions reached will be used for further studies and collaboration with a company. Furthermore, Swansea, Pisa and Heriot-Watt Universities are considering patenting the scale-up process. For this reason, no data and can be shared. However, it can be confirmed that an improvement of the scale-up process was found, allowing us to keep the CO2 capture capacities. Even more, it can be indicated that the green route, using tap water instead of deionized water, gives us a perfect MOF structure with a very competitive productivity (almost double the common commercial productivity).

This work will provide measurable improvements in the acceleration of the MOF high scale production in a commercial level. More specifically, individuals and institutions who work in adsorption systems, CO2 capture technologies and MOF production will benefit from the conclusions of this work. This collaboration will help to understand some uncertainties between the synthesis conditions at high scale and the MOF properties. This will improve the next MOF generation production accelerating their use in CCS technologies, which will benefit the CCS community members.

I would thank all my funders – UKCCSRC, RCCS, and ESRI – for making this collaboration possible. My full gratitude to Dr Enrico Andreoli for hosting me in their research group and for their help and great discussions. I also want to thank my line manager, Prof Susana Garcia at Heriot-Watt University, for her guidance and support with my participation in this study.