Metal-organic frameworks could be used to filter carbon from smokestack emissions (Photo: Dori)
Imagine a material that appears to be the size of a sugar cube, but when you unfold it, you discover it has the surface area of a football field. Besides its unbelievable surface area, this substance can also be tweaked to absorb specific molecules. Such materials are called metal-organic frameworks, and could be ideal candidates for filtering the carbon out of smoke stack emissions. With that end in mind, a team of California chemists are now racing to create a metal-organic framework that can be used in an industrial carbon sponge. Because there are millions of possible molecular variations, the team is using development techniques that are up to 100 times faster than conventional methods.