Control of zeolite pore interior for chemoselective alkyne/olefin separations

Journal: Science

Published: 2020-05-29

DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8447

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 17

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Research Highlight

Zeolites master challenging mixtures

© Dorling Kindersley/Getty

© Dorling Kindersley/Getty

Adding atomically dispersed metal ions to porous materials known as molecular sieves dramatically boosts their capacity to separate problematic mixtures of industrial chemicals.

Organic chemicals called lower olefins are the starting materials for many common polymers. However, they invariably contain alkyne impurities, which poison the polymerization catalyst. Current methods for removing the alkynes are inefficient, energy intensive and expensive.

Zeolites, also known as molecular sieves, are inexpensive porous materials used in many industrial purifications. However, they have been unable to separate olefins and alkynes because the two components in the mixture are very similar in size.

Now, a team led by Nankai University researchers has shown that zeolites can be modified to readily separate olefins and alkynes with high selectivity. They achieved this by incorporating nickel ions, which strongly bind to alkynes, into the pores within the zeolite structure.

Supported content

  1. Science 368, 1002–1006 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.aay8447
Institutions Share
Nankai University (NKU), China 0.24
The University of Manchester (UoM), United Kingdom (UK) 0.18
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), United States of America (USA) 0.18
State Key Laboratory of Molecular Reaction Dynamics, DICP CAS, China 0.12
MOE Key Laboratory of Advanced Energy Materials Chemistry (KLAEMC), NKU, China 0.12
STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), United Kingdom (UK) 0.12
Diamond Light Source Ltd., United Kingdom (UK) 0.06