Metal-organic may not be a phrase that you’ll use frequently in general conversation. But in the scientific world, this is an important compound and concept to know more about.
Here’s a quick crash course into what metal-organic frameworks are, why they’re important, and how they’re used.
Metal-Organic Frameworks in a Nutshell
Metal-organic frameworks are also referred to as MOF or MOFs. They have a porous and crystalline makeup that combines metal ions and what’s known as an organic linker molecule. That’s why they’re called metal-organic frameworks.
This organic and inorganic combination comes together to form a kind of cage structure. The linker materials latch on to the metal ions to create this design, which is hollow and very porous.
This makeup is important because it also makes MOFs very flexible.
They can have very large and expansive surface areas. They can also be manipulated in size without disturbing their base structure. And they’re incredibly absorbent.
For these reasons, metal-organic frameworks are attractive for use in a number of different scientific and technical applications.
Metal-Organic Frameworks Applications
There are more than 20,000 metal-organic frameworks that are known and researched. But this is a field that is relatively new and growing. Here are just a few of the ways this framework is currently applied.
One major way that metal-organic frameworks are put to work is with gas storage, detection, and separation.
Natural gas storage has become increasingly important in recent years as concerns have grown over global warming and sustainable energy use.
MOFs offer a compelling way to expand the possibilities for storing this fuel in a more efficient way. A tank that uses a metal-organic framework can hold the same amount as traditional gas tanks but at a much lower pressure.
But these frameworks can provide other green effects. MOFs can help capture and separate carbon dioxide from power plants that use fossil fuels. This could help isolate harmful, toxic gases and make a huge impact on reducing the greenhouse effect.
Gas detection is also another significant application. Typically this job is left to heavy machines that require a lot of energy. Metal-organic frameworks present a way to create smaller and more energy-efficient gas-detection machines.
Another way MOFs are applied is through carbon capture for more efficient refrigeration and cooling.
Just like the application to replace energy-guzzling gas-detection machines, these frameworks could create greener refrigerators and air conditioners.
Scientists may be able to harness MOFs in a way so they absorb refrigerant gases in a highly efficient way. This could happen by using heat from a renewable resource instead of electricity for greener cooling.
Want to dive deeper into these ultra-absorbent materials and what they can do? See more here.
Now that you know a bit more about metal-organic frameworks, don’t just stop there. Stay in the know and keep learning. Check back soon for the latest tech news and science content on our blog.