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Novel organic metal hybrids that will revolutionize materials science and chemical engineering
Date:2/18/2008

A novel class of hybrid materials made from metals and organic compounds is changing the face of solid state chemistry and materials science just 10 years after its discovery, with applications already in safe storage of highly inflammable gases such as hydrogen and methane. Europe is aiming to capitalise on core strengths in the field and build critical mass by combining the diverse range of skills required within a coherent research network, following a major workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF).

The materials called MOFs (Metal Organic Frameworks) represent one of the biggest breakthroughs in solid state science whose potential is only just being realised, according to the ESF workshop convenor Grard Frey. The domain is currently exploding, and there are so many potential applications that it is difficult to decide how to prioritise them. The only limit is our imagination, said Frey.

There is no doubt though that the first big application of MOFs - storage of gases - will be highly important, given the urgency of developing alternatives to fossil fuels for automobiles. For hydrogen storage, MOFs are already used, and many carmakers have these products in prototypes, said Frey.

MOFs are porous materials with microscopic sized holes, resembling honeycombs at molecular dimensions. This property of having astronomical numbers of tiny holes within a relatively small volume can be exploited in various ways, one of which is as a repository for gases. Gas molecules diffuse into the MOF solid and are contained within its pores. In the case of gas storage, MOFs offer the crucial advantage of soaking up some of the gas pressure exerted by the molecules. This makes hydrogen derived from non-fossil energy sources such as fuel cells, or even genetically engineered plants, potentially viable as a fuel for cars while the alternative of pressurised canisters is not. The key difference is that the amount of gas stored in a convent
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Contact: Grard Frey
gferey@wanadoo.fr
33-139-254-359
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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