Metal Organic Framework Research

University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
Developing Metal-Organic Frameworks as Adsorbents for Industrial Carbon Capture Applications
ARPA-E Award: 
Berkeley, CA
Project Term: 
07/01/2010 to 08/31/2015
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Coal-fired power plants provide nearly 50% of all electricity in the U.S. While coal is a cheap and abundant natural resource, its continued use contributes to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. Capturing and storing this CO2 would reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels while allowing power plants to continue using inexpensive coal. Carbon capture and storage represents a significant cost to power plants that must retrofit their existing facilities to accommodate new technologies. Reducing these costs is the primary objective of ARPA-E's carbon capture program.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
UC Berkeley is developing a method for identifying the best metal organic frameworks for use in capturing CO2 from the flue gas of coal-fired power plants. Metal organic frameworks are porous, crystalline compounds that, based on their chemical structure, vary considerably in terms of their capacity to grab hold of passing CO2 molecules and their ability to withstand the harsh conditions found in the gas exhaust of coal-fired power plants. Owing primarily to their high tunability, metal organic frameworks can have an incredibly wide range of different chemical and physical properties, so identifying the best to use for CO2 capture and storage can be a difficult task. UC Berkeley uses high-throughput instrumentation to analyze nearly 100 materials at a time, screening them for the characteristics that optimize their ability to selectively adsorb CO2 from coal exhaust. Their work will identify the most promising frameworks and accelerate their large-scale commercial development to benefit further research into reducing the cost of CO2 capture and storage.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, UC Berkeley's new methods for identifying the most suitable metal organic frameworks for use in carbon capture technology will be an indispensable tool for future researchers and dramatically reduce the cost of this technology.
Enabling continued use of domestic coal for electricity generation will preserve the stability of the electric grid.
Improving the cost-effectiveness of carbon capture methods will minimize added costs to homeowners and businesses using electricity generated by coal-fired power plants for the foreseeable future.
Carbon capture technology could prevent more than 800 million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Dane Boysen
Project Contact: 
Jeffrey Long
ADA-ES, Inc.
LBNL - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Wildcat Discovery Technologies, Inc.