Modulated Metal-Organic Frameworks for Hydrogen Storage

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


This high-impact proposal will deliver high capacity hydrogen storage materials for applications in the automobile industry by developing the design, synthesis and scale-up of new metal-organic framework (MOF) materials. We will deliver materials with enhanced hydrogen storage capability by preparing porous MOFs with specifically designed pores for gas adsorption. These new materials will have reduced weight and volume, and thus improve overall energy storage density and efficiency. Our strategy of MOF pore modulation also develops approaches to controlling the kinetics of hydrogen uptake allowing direct management of refuelling times, and increasing the reversibility and life expectancy of the store.The proposal will deliver new methodologies for enhancing MOF structural design and synthesis by increasing hydrogen binding energies by i. formation of narrow pores thus inducing overlapping potentials from pore walls, ii. generation of free metal coordination sites within MOF pores to allow stronger binding of hydrogen directly to metal and cluster nodes, and iii. incorporation of free ligand donor sites within pores.We will develop the preparation of anionic MOFs with a range of organic, inorganic and metal counter-cations encapsulated within framework pores. Such an approach will afford materials with controlled hysteretic adsorption properties via cation gating leading to controlled refuelling/recharging of the storage system. The final aspect of the proposal will be to develop the scale-up of synthesis for selected MOFs using microwave technologies. Scale-up is a key issue for the use of MOFs in the transport sector and our approaches will target particularly high performance materials. Novel routes to functional porous materials using near critical solvents and mechanochemical methods will also be investigated. Continuous flow methods using microwave synthesis and near critical solvents will be assessed with the aim of reducing costs of scale-up.The ultimate goal of the proposal will be to bring the application of MOFs as hydrogen storage materials to a stage where they can be applied in real-world systems, thus overcoming a major technological barrier and unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a viable, clean replacement for fossil fuels, and enabling the Hydrogen Economy to become a reality.

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 will be trained across physical sciences and engineering, and will be available for employment across the UK economy. The research will contribute to the Economy via the development of a range of new energy and sustainable technologies which will lead 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. 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 and fuel cells. 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, 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. 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 with the BPU, the University of Nottingham Research and Innovation Services and/or the relevant industry, as appropriate. We will organise targeted meetings with industrialists to promote knowledge exchange and collaboration. Public engagement and outreach, including presentations and experiments at public events, in schools and colleges will be undertaken with Dr Samantha Tang, a full-time Public Awareness Scientist employed within the School of Chemistry. 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.


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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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Chamberlain TW (2011) A piggyback ride for transition metals: encapsulation of exohedral metallofullerenes in carbon nanotubes. in Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Description Porous material that can store high amounts of hydrogen for possible application in hydrogen powered vehicles
Exploitation Route Porous materials could be used to store/separate other gases
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment,Transport

Description Our materials for hydrogen storage have been assessed by General Motors as part of their programme to develop on board vehicle hydrogen storage systems
Sector Chemicals,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Economic

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