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New Class of Hybrid Materials for Detection, Capture, and “On-Demand” Release of Carbon Monoxide

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posted on 13.04.2018, 13:53 by Anaïs Pitto-Barry, Alexandru Lupan, Christopher Ellingford, Amr A. A. Attia, Nicolas P. E. Barry
Carbon monoxide (CO) is both a substance hazardous to health and a side product of a number of industrial processes, such as methanol steam reforming and large-scale oxidation reactions. The separation of CO from nitrogen (N2) in industrial processes is considered to be difficult because of the similarities of their electronic structures, sizes, and physicochemical properties (e.g., boiling points). Carbon monoxide is also a major poison in fuel cells because of its adsorption onto the active sites of the catalysts. It is therefore of the utmost economic importance to discover new materials that enable effective CO capture and release under mild conditions. However, methods to specifically absorb and easily release CO in the presence of contaminants, such as water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen, at ambient temperature are not available. Here, we report the simple and versatile fabrication of a new class of hybrid materials that allows capture and release of carbon monoxide under mild conditions. We found that carborane-containing metal complexes encapsulated in networks made of poly­(dimethylsiloxane) react with CO, even when immersed in water, leading to dramatic color and infrared signature changes. Furthermore, we found that the CO can be easily released from the materials by simply dipping the networks into an organic solvent for less than 1 min, at ambient temperature and pressure, which not only offers a straightforward recycling method, but also a new method for the “on-demand” release of carbon monoxide. We illustrated the utilization of the on-demand release of CO from the networks by carrying out a carbonylation reaction on an electron-deficient metal complex that led to the formation of the CO-adduct, with concomitant recycling of the gel. We anticipate that our sponge-like materials and scalable methodology will open up new avenues for the storage, transport, and controlled release of CO, the silent killer and a major industrial poison.