Researchers at the group of Dr. Stefania Grecea at the University of Amsterdam’s Research Priority Sustainable Chemistry have devised a way to enhance the practical performance of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). By using leaves from the black poplar as a template, they produced hierarchical porous structures of mixed-metal oxide materials that can act as support for MOF crystals. In a recent edition of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Ph.D. student Yiwen Tang, in collaboration with Dr. David Dubbeldam of the UvA Computational Chemistry group, demonstrate the unique adsorption and separation properties of the bio-inspired design.
Separation of water-alcohol mixtures is one of the most challenging problems associated with the practical application of bioethanol as a sustainable fuel. Produced from agricultural feedstocks, algae farms or the fermentation of molasses, bioethanol contains both water and methanol as impurities. Obtaining fuel-grade bioethanol from these water-alcohol mixtures using traditional distillation is not practical because water and ethanol form a so-called azeotropic mixture.
The cost-effective and green alternative to distillation is adsorptive separation. In biofuels production, this method relies on the development of adsorbent materialswhich are highly selective towards ethanol or the impurities in the mixture. At the University of Amsterdam’s Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry, the group of Dr. Stefania Grecea develops synthetic approaches for designing porous molecular-based materials with such selective adsorption properties.