Coordination Chemistry for Energy and Our Sustainable Futures (ChemEnSus)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry

Abstract

This high-impact, challenging proposal brings together innovative ideas in coordination chemistry within a single inter and multidisciplinary project to open up new horizons across molecular, nanoscale and materials science. Our VISION is to apply coordination chemistry to the design and preparation of new multi-functional porous materials to deliver fundamental scientific and technological advances, and provide innovative solutions to one of the key issues of the 21st Century, that of clean, renewable energy. This will be achieved by creating paradigm shifts in the control of chemical hierarchy and interactions within the confined and multi-functionalized space generated by designed porous metal-organic framework (MOF) materials. Our STRATEGY is thus to develop a world-leading, overarching and fundamental research program with critical mass across complementary areas of physical sciences and engineering through the expertise and collaboration of six research groups. We target inter-related studies on i. porosity in the solid state in self-assembled hybrid materials for gas and volatile organic compound (voc) storage, sequestration and reactivity; ii. porosity in membranes for gas separations and purification for fuel cell applications; and iii. porosity at surfaces for sensing devices and applications. After 5 years we will deliver high capacity hydrogen storage materials that function at ambient temperatures. This will overcome a current major technological barrier unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a viable, clean replacement for fossil fuels and enabling the Hydrogen Economy to become a reality. The impact and significance of such ground-breaking advances will be huge. Our need and reliance upon fossil fuels for transport would be slashed and a new clean energy vector based on the hydrogen fuel cell with zero carbon emissions at the point of use would be achieved. However, fuel cells are notoriously sensitive to gas purity, and thus, in order to realise our overall ambition, we must also understand how hydrogen and other contaminant/competitor substrates, such as other gases, water and vocs from biomass and water electrolysis, interact, bind and are sensed within hybrid materials. Thus, issues of removal, purification, transport and sensing of hydrogen and its contaminants represent fundamental scientific and technological challenges that go hand-in-hand with the huge challenge of hydrogen storage. Programme Grant funding will support the scientific, intellectual and technological inter-dependence of the cross-disciplinary research strands of synthesis, characterisation, storage, purification and sensing. It will support the necessary coordinated and interactive effort to undertake fundamental studies and analysis of how assembled porosity behaves and how it can be controlled at different regime levels, at the micro-, meso- and macro- levels. Four inter-linked research THEMES are identified within the programme: 1. Core fundamental science: synthesis, assembly, modelling and characterisation; 2. Properties and function: gas and voc uptake, selectivity and reactivity; 3 Gas sieving, fuel cell membranes, theory, analysis and multi-scale modelling; 4. Surface templating and sensing devices.The programme of work demands the managerial and financial flexibility and freedom that consolidated funding brings in order to deliver transformative and disruptive research. The training of 10 PDRA- and 15 PhD-level scientists for future employment in the UK will be delivered in an exciting, stimulating and curiosity-driven environment. This will be interlinked to appropriate and extensive knowledge transfer and outreach activities to maximise the impact of research outputs. The application is underpinned by significant funding of 24.2M in current research income held by the PI and CIs, and by 4.57M of matched funding reflecting the unequivocal support of the host institutions for this proposal.

Planned Impact

The proposed research will have major impacts across academe, industry, commercial and financial sectors, national and international governmental agencies, and will have great relevance to societal issues. In terms of Knowledge, highly significant scientific advances in the generation and understanding of new polyfunctional materials, techniques and analysis will be produced via an innovative and transformative programme of research. In terms of People, new highly-skilled early-career scientists (10 PDRAs and 15 PhD students) will be trained across physical sciences and engineering, and will be available for employment across the UK economy. The research will in the medium to longer term contribute to the Economy via the development of a range of new energy and sustainable technologies which will contribute directly to wealth creation via new products, processes and procedures. In due course, new companies of direct importance to Society in terms of improved quality of life, international development and policy will be established based upon the principles of the new green technologies and the programme of sustainability developed in ChemEnSus. The quality of life of the UK and world populations will be enhanced though the positive impacts of this research on the mobility and security of energy, populations, climate, environment and economies. Short-term beneficiaries of the research will be academics working across physical sciences and engineering, and specifically in the multi-disciplinary areas of materials, energy, carbon capture, nanosciences, the hydrogen economy, fuel cells, electrochemistry, theory, modelling and structure determination. The proposal has a strong short-term impact by imparting a unique combination of skills to early-career scientists that can be imported to solve other key problems within the physical sciences. The project will train scientists to enhance the necessary skills-base of the UK in important and timely areas relating to energy and sustainability. The research team is already engaged with several key industries and with SMEs in the region (see Letters of Support), who will benefit through wealth creation, which will increase the economic competitiveness for UK companies and the UK in general. The University of Nottingham will benefit through a strengthening of existing and development of new research relationships with external companies, and the income that patented successful devices and materials will bring. The presence of the Business Partnership Unit (BPU) (Director: Dr Trevor Farren) within the School of Chemistry, Nottingham guarantees that any generated IP will be professionally and competently exploited. A Business Science Fellow (BSF) and the Project Manager, both embedded within the BPU, will work closely with the PI and CIs to ensure that the project will be managed to engage users and beneficiaries, and maximise impacts. All opportunities to spin-out the inventions and discoveries will be taken. Exploitation of the outputs of research during and after the lifetime of the grant will be indentified via discussion within the Programme consortium, with the BPU, the host Universities and/or the relevant industry, as appropriate. Public engagement and outreach, including presentations and experiments at public events, in schools and colleges will be managed by the BSF with Dr Samantha Tang, full-time Public Awareness Scientist. The research has high applicability to the priority areas and especially the Grand Challenges of Research Councils and Governmental Agencies within the UK and across the world. The research will inform stakeholders, funding agencies and policy makers especially in the areas of energy and sustainable development. We will be advocates in the strongest possible terms for the contributions that the Physical Sciences can make in these areas.

Publications

10 25 50
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Allan DR (2014) High-pressure studies of palladium and platinum thioether macrocyclic dihalide complexes. in Acta crystallographica Section B, Structural science, crystal engineering and materials

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Allan DR (2015) Structural aspects of metal-organic framework-based energy materials research at Diamond. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Argent SP (2012) High-nuclearity metal-organic nanospheres: a Cd66 ball. in Journal of the American Chemical Society

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Argent SP (2012) High-nuclearity metal-organic nanospheres: a Cd66 ball. in Journal of the American Chemical Society

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/I011870/1 09/06/2011 31/08/2015 £4,157,587
EP/I011870/2 Transfer EP/I011870/1 01/09/2015 31/12/2016 £1,229,894
 
Description We are developing a portfolio of novel metal organic framework materials. These are porous polymers with very large internal surface areas. This property makes them ideal for further development for applications such as carbon capture & storage, hydrogen storage for on board vehicle use, methane storage and purification and hydrocarbon separation. We have developed a rage of materials that show selectivity for CO2, SO2, NO2, CH4, ethane, ethylene and acetylene. These works are supported by comprehensive structural, dynamic and spectroscopic studies.
Exploitation Route Novel products for gas adsorption and selectivity
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://www.manchester.ac.uk
 
Description We have been approached by 17 companies interested in our carbon capture MOFs. We have secured further funding to develop the commercialisation of these materials and work is ongoing in this area. Our reseach has stimulated considerable media interest and has been widely disseminated to the public through articles that featured on BBC website and radio.WE have won funding via an ERC Advanced Grant and a Russian Mega Grant in collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Sector Chemicals,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Exhibitor at UK Materials Research Exchange, February 2014
 
Description Meeting with Chris Leslie MP
 
Description Reference in Eight Great Technologies - David Willets
 
Description ERC Proof of Concept
Amount
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start  
 
Title Development of novel gas dosing system at STFC Diamond facility 
Description  
Type Of Material  
Provided To Others? No  
 
Description General Motors 
Organisation General Motors
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Synthesis of MOF materials
Collaborator Contribution Testing of MOF materials
Impact Results are conifdential
Start Year 2009
 
Description Johnson Matthey Technology Centre 
Organisation Johnson Matthey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2005
 
Title Coordination Polymers for Gas Capture 
Description Novel MOFs with exceptional gas adsorption properties 
IP Reference WO2013144628 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed No
Impact Under negotiation
 
Title Metal Organic Frameworks 
Description Contiunous flow synthesis of MOF in water 
IP Reference WO2014013274 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed No
Impact Follow on funding secured to help commercialise the technology
 
Title Metal-Organic Frameworks 
Description Novel MOF with high methane storage capacity 
IP Reference GB1222522.3 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed No
Impact High level publication
 
Description 'New Holey Material soaks up CO2' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article on BBC Science web pages based on our Nature Materials publication.

Increased media interest in our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Boost for carbon capture from Non toxic adsorber 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Reuters press release on Nature Chemistry paper on new carbon capture MOF.

contact from 14 companies interested in learning more about our technology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Capter et eliminer le CO2 a la source 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article published in Decouverte magazine produced by the Palais de la Decouverte in Paris and distributed at the museum. Article is about our research into carbon capture MOFs.

Increase interest in our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description ChemEnSus project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact University of Nottingham press release/blog about ChemEnSus project.

Increased mnedia interest in our project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description High capacity MOF shows clean fuel promise 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in Royal Society of Chemistry Chemistry World Magazine highlighting research findings published in Chemical Science paper.

Increased contact about our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description I'm a scientist get me out of here! 
Form Of Engagement Activity
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description MOF gate opens selective CO2 storage door 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in Royal Society Chemistry World magazine about selective CO2 adsorption in a MOF published in Chemical Science in 2012.

Further enquiries about our research/materials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description New chemical sponge has potential to mitigate carbon footprint of oil industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Press release with STFC about research results published in Nature Chemistry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.isis.stfc.ac.uk/science/energy/new-chemical-sponge-has-potential-to-mitigate-carbon-footp...
 
Description Potential carbon capture role for new CO2 absorbing material 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact University of Nottingham press release/web page article on CO2 capture MOFs.

Enquiries from industry asking for more information on our materials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Radio interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC Radio Nottingham Interview about new materials for carbon capture based around Nature Chemistry paper.

Further media interest stimulated
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description SET for Britain Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact ChemSnSus PhD student Mathew Savage was selected through a national competition to present a poster of his research at the SET for Briain 2013 event hosted at the Houses of Parliament to an audience of MPs and other distinguished guests.

Increase awareness of our research amongst policy makers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Scientific discovery offers 'green' solution in fight against greenhouse gases 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press release/web page article from University of Nottingham Communications team on latest research into carbon capture MOF materials.

Media interest in our research including BBC Radio and online
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Towards a cleaner-carbon future 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One of Science & Technology Facilities Highlights of 2012 is focused on joint ChemEnSus/STFC research into carbon capture MOFs.

Further opportunities to access facilities at sTFC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013