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New storage nanotechnology for hydrogen, carbon dioxide

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Several significant technology breakthroughs are needed to transition to a hydrogen based economy. The biggest question is how to store and transport copious amounts of hydrogen gas. Researchers at UCLA may have made significant headway in this regard.

Omar Yaghi and his team at the Center for Reticular Chemistry have developed new nanostructures called covalent organic frameworks (COFs). The COFs act as “crystalline sponges” and soak up specific gases. They work in a similar fashion to the molecular sieves that help remove water from ethanol fuel.

Molecular pores are designed to exclusively hold molecules of a specific size and shape. COFs benefit from high thermal stability, extremely low densities and large surface areas. COF-108, the lightest crystalline structure ever, has approximately the same surface area as “30 tennis courts”. COFs can be adapted for a variety of different functions. Yaghi specifically cited COFs as a possible storage medium for carbon dioxide capture and sequestration systems.