Photo: Dr Michael Zaworotko,
Scientists at the University of Limerick have devised a new method to purify polluting gases using a sponge like material that could lead to reductions in environmentally harmful emissions, as well as a reduction in energy consumption globally. This research has just been published in the current edition of Science.
This sponge was developed in part by the UL based team led by Professor Michael Zaworotko, SFI Research Professor and Bernal Chair of Crystal Engineering and Dr Kai-Jie Chen, post-doctoral researcher, found that a sieve-like structure, SIFSIX-2-Cu-i, can act like a sponge, mopping up acetylene – a colourless gas made of carbon and hydrogen.
Dr Chen and Professor Zaworotko had thought that the material could work as a sieve but unexpectedly discovered that it behaves more like a sponge. Speaking about the discovery, Professor Zaworotko, commented that, “in a way this was a glorious failure, where the outcome was so much better than expected.” Collaboration and pooling of knowledge with other scientists in institutions in the US and in China led to the development of a material capable of soaking up acetylene during the production of ethylene.
This discovery may change the very way in which some global warming may be approached in the future and may help to reduce the toll of energy consumption.
Photo courtesy of UL .ie