From the benchtop to the pilot plant: making headway in the synthesis of metal-organic frameworks
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are highly functional porous sorbent materials that have benefitted from over twenty years of intense academic research. The major focus of MOF research has been the development of new materials with interesting structures, chemical compositions, and optimal functionality. As the emphasis on green chemistry has intensified over the years, the focus of this research has, nonetheless, shifted towards developing more energy and cost-efficient MOF manufacture. Recently, the commercialization of the first applications using MOFs have fuelled this effort to develop cheap and safe methods to synthesize high-quality MOF materials. Here we summarize the recent developments in MOF industrialization, and highlight current players in the landscape of MOF manufacture.
INTRODUCTION: MOFs IN RESEARCH AND IN PRACTICE
Metal-organic frameworks are advanced porous sorbent materials which consist of metal ions and bridging organic molecules that, together, form complex 3-dimensional molecular structures(1). With the help of over twenty years of extensive academic and industrial research, MOFs have reached a high degree of sophistication, due in part to their exceptional porosity, fine tunability, and high functionality(2). Because of these properties, MOFs have become leading candidates for applications in fields ranging from gas storage(3) and separation(4) to direct water capture from the air(5) and dehumidification(6). Despite the exponential increase in citations discussing MOFs over the past twenty years of research, their commercialization is fairly recent, pioneered by the Müller team at BASF. In 2011 the prototypical zeolitic imidazolate framework material ZIF-8 was made available as Basolite Z1200, which was followed by the commercialization of the copper-based HKUST-1, aluminium-based MIL-53, zirconium-based UiO-66, and zinc-based MOF-177, as well as several other carboxylate and azolate-based MOFs by BASF a ...