Scientists from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's University of Liverpool, and an international team of collaborators, have invented the first porous liquid. Additionally, the team found that this material can dissolve unusually large amounts of gas that are absorbed into the “holes” in the liquid.
The research, which spanned three years, could lead to more efficient and environmentally friendlier chemical processes, including the process known as carbon capture. Carbon capture is the trapping carbon dioxide from major sources—for example, a fossil fuel power plant—and storing it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere. The goal of this process is to help reduce anthropogenic climate change, which is largely driven by the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by human industry.
In making the porous liquid, the shapes of the molecules were designed so that the liquid could not fill up all the space. The empty holes ultimately allowed the liquid to dissolve large amounts of gas.
The Project’s Future
Porous materials are used in manufacturing several products, such as plastic bottles and petrol; however, these porous materials have always been solids or perhaps foam-like materials, never liquids. This is the first time that a liquid has been shown to be “porous.” It is also the first demonstration of a how liquids can dramatically increase the amount of gas they can dissolve by creating holes in them.
The scientists assert that years of research are still needed to realize the full potential of such a technology. Any industrial applications would result to new or improved chemical processes, especially those that rely on the dissolution of gases.