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Monday 15 January 13:53

Pre-Nobel Symposium on sustainable materials for a changing world

News: Oct 12, 2023

Cutting-edge science and innovation abounded at the Pre-Nobel Symposium on Metal-Organic Frameworks at Chalmers University of Technology. From extracting water from desert air to converting carbon dioxide into useful compounds, the event brought together leading minds from across the globe to address pressing global sustainability challenges. Global Sustainable Futures proudly sponsored the event.

The Pre-Nobel Symposium "Metal-Organic Frameworks—Fundamental Science Enabling Transformative Materials" recently took place at Chalmers University of Technology, with the overarching theme of sustainable materials for a changing world. This international event, held on September 17-18 and led by Prof. Lars Öhrström, welcomed participants from several continents, including the US, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Europe, reflecting the interconnected nature of sustainable development. Global Sustainable Futures co-sponsored the symposium, emphasizing our commitment to sustainability and the global perspective on emerging materials science.

Metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, encompass a group of materials with an exceptionally large surface area. This property makes MOFs useful for a wide range of purposes, including storage of other molecules, catalysis and harvesting of water from desert air.

Prof. Omar Yaghi, University of California, Berkeley, who pioneered MOFs and reticular chemistry, gave a presentation entitled “Reticular Chemistry to Build a Sustainable Future for People and the Planet”. Holding notable promise for areas where water is scarce, MOFs can be used repeatedly to pull water out of the air, even very dry air, powered only by ambient sunlight. Prof. Yaghi gave an illustrative example of that one ton of MOF, used in three cycles, can produce 2.25 tons of pure water in one day in a process powered solely by solar energy.

Addressing the urgent issue of sustainable chemistry, Prof. Banothile Makhubela from the University of Johannesburg aims to convert waste biomaterials to sustainable chemicals and fuels. She reported progress on the use of MOFs to produce the versatile compound furfuryl alcohol from biomass through a process that is less environmentally harmful than current methods.

Dr. Gift Mehlana from Midlands State University at Gweru in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with Prof. Lars Öhrström at Chalmers University of Technology among others, addressed the challenge of upgrading the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to useful chemical compounds. She reported progress using MOFs for effective storage of hydrogen and thus a means of storing energy.

A consistently green approach to chemistry was introduced by Dr. Romy Ettlinger, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of St. Andrew’s, UK, who presented “Green Synthesis of Reticular Materials”. Her approach aims to optimize the entire chemical process with respect to sustainability, including starting materials, synthesis method and “the three Rs,” meaning recycle, regenerate and reuse.

The advances presented reassured us that chemistry research can contribute to a more sustainable world and is in progress around the world.



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