‘Artificial Photosynthesis’ for Clean Air and Energy Production using Titanium-Based Metal Organic Framework (MOF) and Visible Blue Light

Technology #33636

Low-cost invention can help power plants reduce carbon dioxide emissions while producing solar fuel

UCF researchers have developed a simple, low-cost way to fight global warming and produce new, storable energy. The breakthrough technology provides a titanium-based metal organic framework (MOF) that reacts with visible (blue) light to photocatalytically reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) into two solar fuels: formate and formamide derivatives. 

The CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is a major contributor to global warming, and the amount is far too much for natural photosynthesis to reduce in the short term. Though current titanium-based MOFs can reduce CO2 using ultraviolet (UV) light, UV light is only a small percentage of the sunlight on Earth, significantly limiting the viability of those MOFs. In comparison, the new invention is more commercially viable because it can reduce CO2 using visible light, which is more abundant. Thus, the invention enables “artificial photosynthesis,” which companies, such as power plants, can use to reduce their CO2 emissions and produce clean, storable solar fuels.

Technical Details

The invention comprises a low-cost titanium-based MOF design and methods for fabricating and using the compound to photocatalytically reduce CO2. The safe, non-toxic MOF is a crystalline porous material that exhibits high surface area and large pore volume. Tailored to absorb a specific color of visible light, the MOF consists of titanium oxide clusters connected through organic linkers, such as 2-amino-terephthalate. For example, the MOF’s linkers can be N-alkyl groups of increasing chain length (from methyl to heptyl) and varying connectivity. When illuminated under blue light, the MOF acts as a catalyst to effectively reduce carbon dioxide into solar fuels: formate and formamide derivatives.

Benefits

  • Photoreduction of carbon dioxide and production of solar fuels using only visible (blue) light 
  •  Low cost

Applications

  • Power generation plants 
  • Substitute liquid ethanolamine technology 
  • Chemical transformation of fine chemicals for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals