New materials can convert sulfur dioxide from toxic gases to useful products

Researchers have shown that thanks to new materials composed of specific polymers, harmful sulfur dioxide can be “trapped” and turned into useful compounds. This system can reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by selectively trapping contaminant molecules in a specially designed “cage.”

This trapped gas must not be stored, but can be used for various industrial processes and various types of products after conversion. The material is made up of porous molecules, also known as organic molecular structures (MOFs), inside which are spaces that function as cages. Researchers have found that they can be very efficiently separated from gas mixtures at high temperatures, including the presence of water, by exposing them to lab-simulated vehicle exhaust.

According to the same researchers, this new method is much more efficient than other methods to capture sulfur dioxide. In fact, other methods disperse many solid and liquid wastes, removing up to 95% of harmful gases. Furthermore, as Gemma Smith, the lead author of this study pointed out, “The regeneration pass is very efficient in terms of energy compared to what has been reported in other studies. Sulfur is released at room temperature to convert it into a useful product, while the organometallic structure can be reused for more separation cycles.”

Sulfur dioxide pollution is caused by human activities, particularly those related to power plants, industrial activities, trains, ships and heavy machinery. This research was published in Nature Materials.

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