January 08 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2018 Rating: 2
What if Barack Obama said in his first State of the Union address: 'America must invest in high surface area materials...' ?
Most people would be puzzled. Some minds would probably close down after hearing something slightly intimidating and 'scientific'.
Why surface area? Why not say 'invest in better batteries, cleaning up fossil fuels, solar and hydrogen'?
Energy is about Interactions
Surface area enables better interactions between light, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, metals, and bio enzymes. (At least, that's the short answer.)
The real road to a 'New Energy Economy' is paved at the nanoscale of material science.
What types of applications can we expect?
1) High surface area materials - Trap Molecules & Light
Imagine being able to 'trap' harmful molecules that are byproducts of coal or oil.
Or solar cells that hold photons longer to produce more energy!
2) Solid state storage of energy - High Density Packets
Imagine billions of people buying high density 'packets' of energy at retail stores. We 'refill' instead of 'plugging into' wall sockets. Or electric vehicles that can be refilled by swapping out 'bricks' of energy in the form of solid Hydrogen.
The Evolution of MOFs
Chemical Engineering & News is reporting on progress in a very promising class of high surface area materials that can absorb hydrogen and carbon: Metal Organic Frameworks or MOFs.
MOFs are highly ordered interconnected 'lego' like structures that have open pores that can selectively absorb molecules. It is a 'sponge' with the highest surface area of all known materials- estimated at several football fields per gram.
The problem? Clogged pores.
Now, a team led by UCLA's Professor Omar M. Yaghi, who synthesized MOFs in mid 1990s at Michigan, has developed a technique using supercritical fluids that essentially clean out the material leading to a vast network of open holes.
What to do next? Somebody tell Barack Obama to make Molecular Surface Area a National Priority
Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com
Surface images of nanoparticles could advance energy systems
Carbon based hydrogen storage might be on the horizon
New hydrogen storage device lighter than lithium batteries
Hydrogen storage could support lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles
Image Credit - CE&N/Yaghi Group