Exploiting Diffusion Barrier and Chemical Affinity of Metal-Organic Frameworks for Efficient Hydrogen Isotope Separation.

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Journal of the American Chemical Society, ISSN: 1520-5126, Vol: 139, Issue: 42, Page: 15135-15141

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Kim, Jin Yeong; Balderas-Xicohténcatl, Rafael; Zhang, Linda; Kang, Sung Gu; Hirscher, Michael; Oh, Hyunchul; Moon, Hoi Ri
American Chemical Society (ACS); AMER CHEMICAL SOC
Chemical Engineering; Chemistry; Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
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article description
Deuterium plays a pivotal role in industrial and scientific research, and is irreplaceable for various applications such as isotope tracing, neutron moderation, and neutron scattering. In addition, deuterium is a key energy source for fusion reactions. Thus, the isolation of deuterium from a physico-chemically almost identical isotopic mixture is a seminal challenge in modern separation technology. However, current commercial approaches suffer from extremely low separation efficiency (i.e., cryogenic distillation, selectivity of 1.5 at 24 K), requiring a cost-effective and large-scale separation technique. Herein, we report a highly effective hydrogen isotope separation system based on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) having the highest reported separation factor as high as ∼26 at 77 K by maximizing synergistic effects of the chemical affinity quantum sieving (CAQS) and kinetic quantum sieving (KQS). For this purpose, the MOF-74 system having high hydrogen adsorption enthalpies due to strong open metal sites is chosen for CAQS functionality, and imidazole molecules (IM) are employed to the system for enhancing the KQS effect. To the best of our knowledge, this work is not only the first attempt to implement two quantum sieving effects, KQS and CAQS, in one system, but also provides experimental validation of the utility of this system for practical industrial usage by isolating high-purity D through direct selective separation studies using 1:1 D/H mixtures.