Foundry industry users Mosaic Materials have been named one of 2019’s top chemistry startups by C&EN.
Mosaic Materials is working to selectively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using a porous material based on a metal-organic framework (MOF).
The few carbon-capture facilities in operation around the world today generally absorb CO₂ in an amine solvent and later desorb it with heat. Thomas McDonald, one of the co-founders, wanted to try combining an amine with a MOF known as Mg₂(dobpdc).
He had expected the amine to anchor the CO₂ to the MOF as a way of effectively storing the gas. Instead, he found that when the amine and MOF are exposed to CO₂, the CO₂ molecules insert themselves into metal-amine bonds in the MOF, inducing a reorganization of the amines into chains of ammonium carbamate. Thanks to this molecular reorganization, the material is able to rapidly adsorb large amounts of CO₂. McDonald describes this unprecedented process as cooperative binding.
With cooperative binding, the MOFs can be switched from adsorption to desorption mode with only a small shift in temperature. That on-off ability means captured CO₂ can be easily released at a relatively low cost in a contained environment. The MOF can then be reused.