Edible Carbon Dioxide Sponge

This gives whole new meaning to the term “spongeworthy”.

When a yellow dye, called pH indicator, is placed within the voids of the metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), the crystals turn yellow. However, upon exposure to carbon dioxide, the pH indicator switches to a red color, indicating that the MOF has both reacted and filled up with carbon dioxide. If the crystals are placed away from high concentrations of carbon dioxide, the gas leaves, and the crystals once again turn yellow.

From Northwestern University News: EVANSTON, Ill. — A year ago Northwestern University chemists published their recipe for a new class of nanostructures made of sugar, salt and alcohol. Now, the same team has discovered the edible compounds can efficiently detect, capture and store carbon dioxide. And the compounds themselves are carbon-neutral.

The porous crystals — known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) — are made from all-natural ingredients and are simple to prepare, giving them a huge advantage over other MOFs. Conventional MOFs, which also are effective at adsorbing carbon dioxide, are usually prepared from materials derived from crude oil and often incorporate toxic heavy metals.

Other features of the Northwestern MOFs are they turn red when completely full of carbon dioxide, and the carbon capture process is reversible.

The findings, made by scientists working in the laboratory of Sir Fraser Stoddart, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).

“We are able to take molecules that are themselves sourced from atmospheric carbon, through photosynthesis, and use them to capture even more carbon dioxide,” said Ross S. Forgan, a co-author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart’s laboratory. “By preparing our MOFs from naturally derived ingredients, we are not only making materials that are entirely nontoxic, but we are also cutting down on the carbon dioxide emissions associated with their manufacture.”

The main component, gamma-cyclodextrin, is a naturally occurring biorenewable sugar molecule that is derived from cornstarch.

The sugar molecules are held in place by metals taken from salts such as potassium benzoate or rubidium hydroxide, and it is the precise arrangement of the sugars in the crystals that is vital to their successful capture of carbon dioxide.

“It turns out that a fairly unexpected event occurs when you put that many sugars next to each other in an alkaline environment — they start reacting with carbon dioxide in a process akin to carbon fixation, which is how sugars are made in the first place,” said Jeremiah J. Gassensmith, lead author of the paper and also a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart’s laboratory. “The reaction leads to the carbon dioxide being tightly bound inside the crystals, but we can still recover it at a later date very simply.”

The fact that the carbon dioxide reacts with the MOF, an unusual occurrence, led to a simple method of detecting when the crystals have reached full capacity. The researchers place an indicator molecule, which detects changes in pH by changing its color, inside each crystal.  When the yellow crystals of the MOFs are full of carbon dioxide they turn red.

The simplicity of the new MOFs, allied with their low cost and green credentials, have marked them as candidates for further commercialization. Ronald A. Smaldone, also a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart’s group and a co-author of the paper, added, “I think this is a remarkable demonstration of how simple chemistry can be successfully applied to relevant problems like carbon capture and sensor technology.”

The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the U.K., the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Korea supported the research.

The title of the paper is “Strong and Reversible Binding of Carbon Dioxide in a Green Metal–Organic Framework.” In addition to Stoddart, Gassensmith, Smaldone and Forgan, the other authors of the paper are Hiroyasu Furukawa and Omar M. Yaghi, from UCLA.


Abstract Image

The efficient capture and storage of gaseous CO2 is a pressing environmental problem. Although porous metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) have been shown to be very effective at adsorbing CO2 selectively by dint of dipole–quadruple interactions and/or ligation to open metal sites, the gas is not usually trapped covalently. Furthermore, the vast majority of these MOFs are fabricated from nonrenewable materials, often in the presence of harmful solvents, most of which are derived from petrochemical sources. Herein we report the highly selective adsorption of CO2 by CD-MOF-2, a recently described green MOF consisting of the renewable cyclic oligosaccharide γ-cyclodextrin and RbOH, by what is believed to be reversible carbon fixation involving carbonate formation and decomposition at room temperature. The process was monitored by solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy as well as colorimetrically after a pH indicator was incorporated into CD-MOF-2 to signal the formation of carbonic acid functions within the nanoporous extended framework.

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It's Only Words
September 26, 2011 12:07 am

What would they be used for?

Allan M
September 26, 2011 12:28 am

The efficient capture and storage of gaseous CO2 is a pressing environmental problem.
Only if you need grant money.

Rational Debate
September 26, 2011 12:45 am

Ah yes, Anthony, I thought you might like that one when I posted an article about it to Tips & Notes a couple of days ago! (September 24, 2011 at 2:21 am) Somehow red MOFs just don’t sound all that appetizing to me. :0)

September 26, 2011 12:54 am

Sugar, salt, and alcohol? Can’t we just keep sequestering the carbon dioxide in beer and wine, and skip the salt?

September 26, 2011 12:59 am

CO2 storage (as it is propagandized by the enviro’s and politicians) is a waste of time, money, effort, materials, land, energy and manpower. It is not needed, and decreases power plant (any process!) efficiency … and produces nothing of value. It increases waste, reduces net gain, and – to repeat – gives back nothing of value.
Except grant money for other government programs from government programs.
(Now, this might be helpful in hydrogen storage, acetylene storage, etc for vehicles instead of high pressure gas bottles.)

September 26, 2011 1:00 am

My apathy knows no bounds.

September 26, 2011 1:08 am

Sounds like an excellent idea for the Space program to be used as a CO2 scrubber. Then take the concentrated CO2 and bubble it through an algae laden solution and wallah! O2 for the people. Depending on the weight to uptake ratio (efficacy), it also might have an application for SCUBA diving or underwater habitats. Other potentials would be mine shafts and other closed spaces requiring ventilation for human occupancy. If there are suitable (commercial) uses for the algae solution, the HVAC system of an office building could become a source of potential for cash flow instead of a cost center.

September 26, 2011 1:08 am

Talking about the sponge, take a look at Spongebob’s global warming piece:

Steve C
September 26, 2011 1:22 am

Hm, not sure I’d call it actually “edible” if it contains rubidium hydroxide along with the tastier bits, but still an unexpected and interesting process. A pity they feel impelled to “justify” their research by starting the abstract with a completely false statement, but I suppose that’s obligatory in the politically-corrupted corridors of modern science.

September 26, 2011 1:27 am

Why?………. CO2 is not pollution.

September 26, 2011 1:28 am

Re: It’s Only Words
> What would they be used for?
One possibility is in enclosed spaces (submarines, spacecraft etc) where the air has to be scrubbed of CO2 to make the atmosphere breathable. It all depends upon how much CO2 they can store and how much effort it is to release it.

John Marshall
September 26, 2011 1:35 am

Since this planet is short of atmospheric CO2 why would you want to store CO2?
To satisfy some stupid political eco desire.

September 26, 2011 1:54 am

I can see a money-spinning idea here.
CO2 detector arm patches!
A simple MOF-Patch with a velcro backing, stuck on the sleeve, could alert the user to dangerous levels of poisonous C02 pollution by changing colour. In life threatening (MOF-CON 3) situations, the user could take some Oxy-Mofs from his back pack, or strap on a MOF-mask in order to escape back to ‘normal’ ppm atmosphere.
Rich Californians would buy Doggie-MOF jackets, or wear their detectors on their Caps, which they could then trade with other Californians

Geoff Sherrington
September 26, 2011 2:35 am

Professional chemists become VERY upset when people wave their arms about taxic chemicals in the environment. Sometimes, they have spent years ensuring that their synthetic chemical are non-toxic as well as more effective than prior alternatives – like penicillin, if you want to go to early extreme examples.
Here is an extract I assembled that relates to cancer toxicity in particular. One celebrated author, Bruce Ames, was a strong advocate for widespread government regulation of chemicals before he did the U-turn that is happening now in climate science.
In: Human and Environmental Risk Assessment: Theory and Practice
D. Paustenbach, ed., New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 1415-1460 (2002)
Misconceptions About the Causes of Cancer
Lois Swirsky Gold, Bruce N. Ames and Thomas H. Slone
The major causes of cancer are: 1) smoking, which accounts for 31% of U.S. cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths; 2) dietary imbalances which account for about another third, e.g., lack of sufficient amounts of dietary fruits and vegetables. 3) chronic infections, mostly in developing countries; and 4) hormonal factors, which are influenced primarily by lifestyle.
There is no cancer epidemic except for cancer of the lung due to smoking. Cancer mortality rates have declined 19% since 1950 (excluding lung cancer). Regulatory policy that focuses on traces of synthetic chemicals is based on misconceptions about animal cancer tests.
Recent research indicates that rodent carcinogens are not rare. Half of all chemicals tested in standard high-dose animal cancer tests, whether occurring naturally or produced synthetically, are “carcinogens”; there are high-dose effects in rodent cancer tests that are not relevant to low-dose human exposures and which contribute to the high proportion of chemicals that test positive. The focus of regulatory policy is on synthetic chemicals, although 99.9% of the chemicals humans ingest are natural.
More than 1000 chemicals have been described in coffee: 30 have been tested and 21 are rodent carcinogens. Plants in the human diet contain thousands of natural “pesticides” produced by plants to protect themselves from insects and other predators: 71 have been tested and 37 are rodent carcinogens.
There is no convincing evidence that synthetic chemical pollutants are important as a cause of human cancer.
Neither epidemiology nor toxicology supports the idea that exposures to environmental levels of synthetic industrial chemicals are important as a cause of human cancer.
That seems fairly positive to me.

Brian H
September 26, 2011 2:37 am

Since it releases CO2 when in a low concentration environment, it could be used in agriculture. Place racks in the fields; they fill up at night, and then on still days when the growing plants eat all the nearby CO2, release more to keep them growing.

September 26, 2011 2:40 am

If it is really this good at capturing all those evil carbon atoms, can we use it as a substitute for coal and other fossil fuels? (/sarc?)

Dr. John M. Ware
September 26, 2011 2:55 am

My father, a physician, used to refer to “the cure for which there is no disease.” This study is a perfect example: Interesting, but currently of little or no practical value. The biggest danger I see (and I hesitate to write it) is that the Government will see this and mandate its implementation on a trillion-dollar scale.

September 26, 2011 3:03 am

It’s not exactly CO2 capture but if you drink a good bit of alcohol your breathing slows way down.

September 26, 2011 3:05 am

might be useful for spacecraft and submarines, as another poster has suggested. As far as CAGW alarmists, well the more expensive and useless it is the more it will become a moral imperative for them, so unless its cheap and effective they will probably demand it be made mandatory

September 26, 2011 3:36 am

This process may have some minor applications as mentioned by others, but I always thought that the single most efficient method of carbon capture was to let the flora handle it. Grow trees harvest the wood and capture the carbon in houses. Plastics made from wood are very special and all plastic bags could easily be environmentally friendly. Forget enviro fuels, eat the corn and use the refuse for enviro plastic, we have the technology. Eat the Bananas and use the banana fibre it is so strong that the new Boeing 787 could be made out of it. Many researchers have been looking in all the wrong places for the answers to the right questions. The way of the world is some what askew when plant food is called a pollutant and the felling of trees is often a crime. The recycling of our forests is one of our greatest assets. When chemists such as these discover a good thing, why do they need to add cr@p to their story, if it is worthwhile commercialisation is all that is necessary for them to be successful, not a government grant.

September 26, 2011 3:53 am

So you’ll have to produce and store massive amounts of corn starch not to eat it or to use it industrially as a raw material but to blow some CO2 into it? Well, you probably need a storage container for those megatons of corn starch, so why not just store the CO2 in that container and do something useful with the starch?

September 26, 2011 4:15 am

How is this better than soda-lime, which has been used for over 100 years to absorb CO2? While the chemistry is interesting, this does seem like a solution looking for a problem.

Chuck Nolan
September 26, 2011 4:37 am

“Other features of the Northwestern MOFs are they turn red when completely full of carbon dioxide, and the carbon capture process is reversible.”
Where are they releasing this EVIL CO2 once the plate is full?
I suppose we could store them next to the nasty spent rods and other nuclear waste.

Brian Johnson uk
September 26, 2011 4:42 am

Submariners regularly work in CO2 atmospheres of around 5 to 8000 ppm and it has no effect on them. After all we exhale at around 40,000 ppm when resting. 50,000 ppm, starts to have an effect on our system. Long way from 390 ppm uh? My pal’s huge greenhouses have around 1500 ppm CO2 and the plants need less water and grow better. As for CO2 being a pollutant and the need for capture – pure stupidity allied to politico scientific manipulated monetary greed.
Wake up you Green Hystericals and face the truth. There is no “Tipping Point” and our children are not facing anymore drought, pestilence, flooding, mega typhoons/tornados/hurricanes than have occurred for centuries. CO2 is a necessary gas and more is better than less and doesn’t need a politico/warped science Tax applied to it. Anymore than the Ozone ‘hole’ is caused by mankind. Pollution and poison are not CO2 bedfellows.

Smoking Frog
September 26, 2011 4:42 am

If these things are edible, the campaign against obesity is misguided. 🙂

September 26, 2011 4:55 am

There’s nothing like a material that does nothing useful to solve a problem that is nonexistent.
Basically good for nothing, but soaking the taxpayers.

September 26, 2011 5:21 am

Steve C says:
September 26, 2011 at 1:22 am

Hm, not sure I’d call it actually “edible” if it contains rubidium hydroxide along with the tastier bits, but still an unexpected and interesting process….

At least potassium benzoate is a preservative, commonly used on humans. Err, human food, err, food eaten by humans. I didn’t see anything about which alcohol was used, that’s worth checking out before sampling this new spongecake.

Michael D Smith
September 26, 2011 5:28 am

Sounds worthy of a $500,000,000 government loan guarantee to me! It’s green AND red!

Patrick Davis
September 26, 2011 5:29 am

Edible “carbon”? Isn’t that, errrm, plant matter?

Fred from Canuckistan
September 26, 2011 5:37 am

“a new class of nanostructures made of sugar, salt and alcohol”
Isn’t that a Tequila Sunrise?

Tom Rowan
September 26, 2011 5:44 am

Many reputable scientists are concerned that our atmosphere is suffering a CO2 drought. The levels of CO2 are near the point where plants could starve and vegetation ceases.
Considering that viewpoint, why would anyone in their right minds seek to lower atmospheric CO2?
just sayin………..

September 26, 2011 5:50 am

I can see it now. Power plant smokestacks full of this stuff as “scrubbers”, not for the CAGW reasons, but as a profit center. Take the modules out when full and sell them to the nearest green house as a reliable source of CO2 for plant food. The power plant operator could probably make more profit selling what is now a waste product. There are a lot of things that can be done with these with enough creativity applied.

September 26, 2011 5:53 am

If they take away any CO2 from my tomatoes, I’ll sue!

September 26, 2011 5:56 am

Brian H says:
September 26, 2011 at 2:37 am
Since it releases CO2 when in a low concentration environment, it could be used in agriculture. Place racks in the fields; they fill up at night, and then on still days when the growing plants eat all the nearby CO2, release more to keep them growing.

I was actually thinking about something similar to this, except you could use them as a form of chargeable plant feeders. Pump CO2 from coal or LNG plants through containers filled with them. In the high CO2 environ, they’d trap tons of it, then just distribute them throughout a field during the day to expunge it’s CO2 near crops, which already typically absorb most of the CO2 in their immediate area during the day. The real key here would be to design a system that could store for travel, and distribute the CO2 from the crystals over a large area without being too bulky, complicated or costly, since the MOFs are supposed to be so cheap to make. If the system is simple and effective enough you could get funding for this pretty easily. It would be a portable plant feeder. We’ve already seen the positive effects of growing plants in very high CO2 concentrations. We’d be able to make sure that our precious CO2 from power plants only goes into feeding the plants we want to eat… screw those rain forest plants, let them starve on 350ppm or less!

September 26, 2011 5:58 am

I have been working with MOFs for two years now, and they are such fashionable items in research at the moment that it is hard to distinguish the good from the crap… For sure if you write MOFs CO2 on a grant application you increase the chances to get it… Omar Yaghi is the father of MOFs, so much so that there are rumors of a Nobel prize candidature for him… But again, also the discovery of fullerenes led to a nobel prize… and mass produced fullerene products are nowhere to be seen.

September 26, 2011 6:05 am

As many of you here know, I have been on a hapless one-man campaign with very little luck since 2006 to get people to seriously
consider a worst-case prediction of the British chemist and inventor
James Lovelock: life in “polar cities” arrayed around the shores of an
ice-free Arctic Ocean in a greenhouse-warmed world, as Dot Earth blogged
about in March of 2008.
Most of you here mocked me and made fun of me, par for the course, and no hard feelings at all. But now I have teamed up with science ficiton writer in Texas to write a sci fi novel about a family
saga in a fictional polar city set in 2080 in northern Alaska.
Thinking that a novel about polar cities might be useful as art,
rather than science,
I am putting the the book — as it is wriiten, chapter by chapter — online for
free for anyone to read and comment on. Here are the first three
chapters, with
another 27 to go:
I told Andy Revkin back in 2008 that my intent with my polar cities media campaign back then
was to conduct a thought experiment that might prod people out of
their comfort zone on climate — which remains, for many, a someday,
somewhere issue. But since my media outreach never
got very far, and met mostly with derision, even here at WUWT, since I of course have no academic background
or science credentials, I decided to take the polar cities meme and
turn it into a sci fi novel, a kind of “the day after” “The Day After
It’s not Cormac McCarthy level writing, as he did so well in ‘The
Road” which won a Pulitzer,It’s more of an airport
‘polar western’ survival story, and only the Texas author’s name will
appear on the cover, as I am serving here as the book’s producer and
get no byline or money from the sales. It’s his book entirely, and so
far from what I’ve read, it’s the kind of sci novel that polar
opposites such as Marc Morano and Joe Rommm could both enjoy. It’s
just a story, a yarn, and it’s set in a polar city.

Doug in Seattle
September 26, 2011 6:10 am

So the stuff captures CO2. What does one do with it then?

Nuke Nemesis
September 26, 2011 6:13 am

J.H. says:
September 26, 2011 at 1:27 am
Why?………. CO2 is not pollution.

Oh no, see, you use them to suck up all the carbon pollution, and when they’re full, you just throw them out.

charles nelson
September 26, 2011 6:13 am

I’m with carl above…isn’t what they’re desribing robotic yeast?

charles nelson
September 26, 2011 6:15 am

Please dear mod..describing…I just get carried away sometimes!

September 26, 2011 6:19 am

[ clapping ] Now that that is settled….
Add a flavor enricher – releaser when the “cracker” turns red
Place a cracker of this on Lake Superior
Feed the fish
Let’s move on to the biggest mystery of all….why does the doors on Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine sometimes open forward and then other times open normally? 🙂

September 26, 2011 6:21 am

The real value, if any, would come from converting the CO2 released by the MOFs into useful compounds. And this would only be feasible if the soak and release times are fairly rapid.

Ian L. McQueen
September 26, 2011 6:42 am

The process of adsorption and later release is the same as that used in oxygen concentrators for people with breathing problems. They use molecular sieves; this CO2 concentrator is a clever use of simpler materials, but there is still the question of what use it is to concentrate CO2. At least one can breathe oxygen.

Pamela Gray
September 26, 2011 6:58 am

Reverse psychology. Market it as being very expensive and only rich people can afford to buy it in any amount. It’ll sell like hotcakes. Perfect match for rich folks who have drunk the coolaid and who don’t have enough sh** to do about global warming..

September 26, 2011 7:06 am

The next step should be to turn the captured CO2 into some organics, like alkanes, alkenes, alcohols etc. and use them as fuel. Maybe someone discover a catalysts which do the trick with a little help of sun light…
Just imagine how our greener friends would cry over a cheap, abundant and environmentally friendly energy source!!!!

September 26, 2011 7:09 am

How about a human CO2 tax mask all humans would have to wear. When your sponge turns red, you have to buy another one from your local human CO2 tax office. Anyone caiught without a tax mask would be shot on sight and they forfeit all assets. All tax proceeds (and forfeitures) would be directed to the Department of Individual Extermination (DIE). This would be the first global governmental department run entirely by androids (with lifetime pensions and free oil changes, no doubt).

September 26, 2011 7:13 am

The report refers to all-natural ingredients as if natural substances are superior to artificial chemicals. Perhaps there is some truth to this attitude? In the 1940s I had an unpleasant experience with natural Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The natural toxin, which is lethal at about 0.1 μg of toxin per kg of bodyweight, was stymied by unnatural antitoxin, the injections of which were more uncomfortable than the disease.

tom T
September 26, 2011 7:27 am

“chemists published their recipe for a new class of nanostructures made of sugar, salt and alcohol”
Wait until the nanny state food police like Michelle and Bloomberg hear about this.

September 26, 2011 7:28 am

Maybe what I am seeing is just an artifact of the photographic process, but the dish with the “recovered” MOF on the right appears a little more red than the fresh MOF on the left. I could interpret this as it does not completely give up all of the CO2 so the collection efficiency would degrade over time. Many solid CO2 adsorbants suffer from this problem. This may not be a magic bullet.

Ken Harvey
September 26, 2011 7:31 am

Geoff Sherrington says:
September 26, 2011 at 2:35 am
“The major causes of cancer are: 1) smoking, which accounts for 31% of U.S. cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths; 2) dietary imbalances which account for about another third, e.g., lack of sufficient amounts of dietary fruits and vegetables. 3) chronic infections, mostly in developing countries; and 4) hormonal factors, which are influenced primarily by lifestyle.
There is no cancer epidemic except for cancer of the lung due to smoking. Cancer mortality rates have declined 19% since 1950 (excluding lung cancer). Regulatory policy that focuses on traces of synthetic chemicals is based on misconceptions about animal cancer tests.”
It was back in 1950 that Professor Doll commenced on his campaign against smoking. I remember it well since that was the same year that I became a smoker – a heavy one. He was a dermatologist by trade with no training in statistics whatever. He lived on the financial rewards of his “research” for the rest of his long life. As with practically all medical “research” there was nothing in his methods that could be equated with scientific enquiry – repetition is not practical, and it is almost impossible to eliminate statistical bias, even on those very rare occasions where a real statistician is involved. In my view the case against smoking is weaker than the case against the CO2 warmers.
If Prof. Doll’s hypothesis was right then, considering the decrease in smoking since 1950, lung cancer should be all but unknown by this time. It is not and “passive smoking” had to be invented to account for the travesty of not being able to account for the lack of a decline.

tom T
September 26, 2011 7:34 am

Food prices are high enough because of using corn to make fuel, for no real reason, the last thing we need to do is use more corn to make co2 sponges for no reason.

September 26, 2011 7:34 am

If you want to sequester carbon, it’s cheaper to grow a tree, and then cut the wood up and build a building. This is nuts.

Jeff Alberts
September 26, 2011 7:44 am

The porous crystals — known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) — are made from all-natural ingredients

Nerve Gas and Nuclear Reactors are made from all-natural materials too. Such a useless phrase.

September 26, 2011 7:59 am

Some other posters have suggested it might be useful for spacecraft and submarines.
This is only the case if the capture and release concerntrations are at usefull levels.
There is nothing in the abstract, and I cannot access the full text, to find out what concerntration of CO2 in the atmosphere causes the compound to bind to the CO2, and what concerntration causes that bond to reverse and release the co2.
I would guess that it is very high concerntrations, >50% that cause absorption and binding, and low, <1% that trigger release. This would make it unsuitable for CO2 scrubbing a breathable atmosphere.
It might make it usefull for the removal of CO2 from natural gas. Especially from the new shale fields which are accesable via fracking. However there are already commercial systems that can do this and it is unclear that this compound would have any advantages in efficiency or economics over the present methods.

Rod Everson
September 26, 2011 8:00 am

It sounds like basic research in an area driven by political considerations. Now if we can only sort the politics from the research, some good might eventually come of it in unexpected areas. If we can’t, it could easily turn into another green tax-dollar sink along the lines of ethanol, solar cells, windmills and “Cash for Clunkers”.

September 26, 2011 8:15 am

I love this. You can take a CO2 source and transfer it Green houses and other locations in which you can then release the CO2 providing a much richer diet of CO2 without the need to burn combustible materials during summer time and the like.
The potential for profit since the material is reusable is huge and if it allows companies to gt past the nanny state for now while bringing a product to bear then so much the better. Fire up the coal power plant we got some sugar to saturate!

Craig Moore
September 26, 2011 8:43 am

Spongeworthy??? Anthony, you have gone all Elaine Benes on us. If they incorporate the MOF’s into edible underwear the question arises whether you change them or eat them when they turn red.

September 26, 2011 9:21 am

I wonder if it is tuneable? That is, can you set the CO2 concentration at which the matrix becomes “full”. If so, you could use it to make a CO2 meter.
This bar becomes red at Xppm. The next bar turns red at Yppm. Etc.

September 26, 2011 9:45 am

My first thought was use as some sort of warning indicator for areas around active volcanos, since volcanos sometimes create pockets of CO2 in concentrations that can kill people and animals. Rather like those little papers that change color according to radiation levels or nerve gases. But I guess all the ash and lava and such is a pretty good warning system too.

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead
September 26, 2011 10:21 am

“And the compounds themselves are carbon-neutral.”
End of the first paragraph. Agenda-smuggling FAIL.

September 26, 2011 11:12 am

There’s a brilliant long-term use for this neat MOF!
They can be used to store all that nasty CO2 which boils the planet, so there’s only the barest minimum left.
And then … comes the next ice age, it can all be released – melting all that ice, stopping the glaciers from advancing, oh yes!
And all the watermelons would be happy!
(Well, probably not: nothing will make watermelons happy …)

David Walton
September 26, 2011 12:22 pm

Think of the burgers that could be made from metal-organic frameworks. All that and a bag of chips!

September 26, 2011 1:52 pm

Well as the slogan has it, “Cutting Carbon Kills”.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
September 26, 2011 8:01 pm

Bah, Northwestern University! At University of Illinois, we don’t need no stinking nanotubes and buckyballs, try using biochar…..no research needed.

September 26, 2011 8:29 pm

Go cats go!

September 26, 2011 8:37 pm

Interesting finding that kinda relates. From PennState. http://live.psu.edu/story/55172#rss49
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A grain of salt or two may be all that microbial electrolysis cells need to produce hydrogen from wastewater or organic byproducts, without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere or using grid electricity, according to Penn State engineers.

September 27, 2011 10:13 am

What appears to be overlooked by most commenters in regards to CO2 capture applications (wether they make sense or not) is the following:
A normal combustion power plant uses air as oxygen source. Which means the exhaust gas volume is still ~60-70% nitrogen even if all the carbon burned has been converted to CO2. With natural gas (less with coal) you also convert a lot of the hydrogen part of the fuel to H2O (H to C ratio of natural gas is ~4 as it is mostly methane, CH4). If you want to sequester the CO2 you have to separate it from the H2O and N2 in the exhaust. This described new material could theoretically be used for that separation, which is otherwise energetically expensive. Another way is to run the combustion process with pure O2 instead of air, which means you need to separate O2 out of the air, which is also expensive, both cost-wise and energetically and only beneficial for almost pure carbon combustion.

September 27, 2011 6:46 pm

Wait a second – all the talk about absorbing CO2 (not a pollutant), and no talk about absorbing Carbon MONOXIDE (a CO concentration of 1600 ppm is deadly after one hour).
The maximum exposure allowed by OSHA in the workplace over an eight hour period is 35 ppm.
Updated reporting has been done for the years 1999-2004 revealing CO poisoning as a contributing cause of death in 16400 deaths.
Seems to me they could actually save lives, instead of dealing with a “green” plan.

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