Crystal engineering: Irish universities lead the way in developing innovative technology

Belfast based MOF technologies have agreed to license and commercialise two new materials created at the University of Limerick to try and combat greenhouse gasses.

These new MOF (Metal Organic Framework) materials, named TIFSIX AND SIFSIX, were developed over four years of research at UL and have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

“MOFs are a new class of porous materials made by using an approach similar to Lego or Meccano, where building blocks or linkers are made between the organic and inorganic,” said Prof Mike Zaworotko, head of the UL research team and world leading MOF expert.

The new “ultramicroporous” materials in question, TIFSIX and SIFSIX have the unique ability to select and absorb carbon dioxide due to their engineering.

Researchers at UL developed these new materials in response to  an EU-led initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across union member states

These substances are developed through crystal engineering, a young field of engineering which designs and produces crystal structures with intended characteristics and uses.

They have the largest surface area of any known material and due to the nature of their engineering are structurally adaptable, giving them wide industrial uses.

“One gram of MOF surface area is equal to 40 tennis courts in storage space,” said Dr Paschal McCloskey, the CAO of MOF Technologies, speaking on these gas sponges.

MOF Technologies were founded in 2012 and are a Queen’s University Spin-Out Company and leaders in the production and research of these absorbent nanomaterials.

MOF Technologies have found five clear industrial uses in these new materials: the storage of hazardous gas, carbon capture, natural gas-powered vehicles, smart packaging and heat transformation.

They have been working with Zaworotko’s UL team for three years and believe that the commercialisation of these new materials “will provide Ireland with an opportunity to make a real contribution to the global fight against climate change.”

Aoife Horan