A sol–gel monolithic metal–organic framework with enhanced methane uptake


A critical bottleneck for the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel has been the development of materials capable of storing it in a sufficiently compact form at ambient temperature. Here we report the synthesis of a porous monolithic metal–organic framework (MOF), which after successful packing and densification reaches 259 cm3 (STP) cm−3 capacity. This is the highest value reported to date for conformed shape porous solids, and represents a greater than 50% improvement over any previously reported experimental value. Nanoindentation tests on the monolithic MOF showed robust mechanical properties, with hardness at least 130% greater than that previously measured in its conventional MOF counterparts. Our findings represent a substantial step in the application of mechanically robust conformed and densified MOFs for high volumetric energy storage and other industrial applications.

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Figure 1: Schematic representation of monolithic and powder MOF synthesis.
Figure 2: Transmission electron microscopy images of monolithic and powder MOF samples.
Figure 3: Gas adsorption in HKUST-1.
Figure 4: Nanoindentation on monoHKUST-1.


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This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (NanoMOFdeli), ERC-2016-COG 726380, and the EPSRC IAA Partnership Development Award (RG/75759). D.F.-J. thanks the Royal Society for funding through a University Research Fellowship. J.C.T. would like to acknowledge the EPSRC (EP/N014960/1) for research funding. G.D. and P.A.M. acknowledge financial support from the EU under grant numbers 312483 ESTEEM2 and 291522 3DIMAGE. J.S.A. acknowledges financial support from MINECO (MAT2016-80285-p), H2020 (MSCA-RISE-2016/Nanomed Project) and GV (PROMETEOII/2014/004).

Author information

T.T. and D.F.-J. designed the research. T.T. performed the materials synthesis and characterization, and D.V. carried out the N2 gas adsorption, both under the supervision of D.F.-J. M.E.C. and J.S.-A. participated in the characterization of the materials, including high-pressure adsorption tests and TGA–MS; Z.Z. performed the nanoindentation experiments under the supervision of J.-C.T.; G.D. carried out the TEM analysis under the supervision of P.A.M.; T.T., P.Z.M. and D.J.-F. wrote the first draft of the manuscript with input from the rest of the authors. All the authors contributed to the final version.

Correspondence to David Fairen-Jimenez.

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Competing interests

T.T. and D.F.-J. have financial interest in the start-up company Immaterial Labs, which is seeking to commercialize metal–organic frameworks.

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Tian, T., Zeng, Z., Vulpe, D. et al. A sol–gel monolithic metal–organic framework with enhanced methane uptake. Nat. Mater. 17, 174–179 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat5050

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