STATES CHRONICLE – Scientists invent the first porous liquid which could help dissolve gases. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have managed to develop the world’s first porous liquid. The new invention is considered quite an important breakthrough as previously discovered porous materials have been solid.
Porous materials generally contain empty spaces or holes in which gases can be absorbed and stored. Such materials are used regularly in the production of petrol and plastic products. But the new material that the scientists have designed is unique because of its liquid form.
The scientists explained the benefits of the new material in a study issued in the Nature journal. The reason a liquid porous material is important is that liquid solvents are the most effective in capturing CO2 gases after the combustion occurs. They went on to explain that materials which have a permanent porosity can be developed and used to capture carbon emissions but that regular liquids do not normally have this quality.
The way the team designed the new material was by creating cage molecules in order to use them for the experiment. Utilizing this type of molecules guaranteed the needed amounts of porosity and so permitted the capture of gas. Afterwards the team dissolved these molecules in a solvent which provided the fluidity. The molecules contained within the solvent were too large to enter the space in cage molecules so the material maintained its ability to absorb gas within the pores.
Stuart James, a professor at the university’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, explained the process he and his team followed in order to create the material: they designed the shapes that the molecules would have first, so that they could prevent the molecules of the liquid from filling in the space of the cage molecules.
By designing the new material starting from a molecular level, the scientists have managed to create a fluid that is hundreds of times more porous than conventional liquids usually have. The find could have major applications in several fields of research related to gas dissolution and provide long term solutions to a wide range of problems caused by gas emissions.
Besides being able to absorb CO2 gas emissions following a combustion, the new material could help absorb and contain harmful greenhouse gases such as methane as well. Additional research is needed in order to convert the new material into successful tools used for carbon trapping, but the new scientific principle that they have discovered will allow new and important developments in the use and production of chemicals.
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