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01-28-2016

Clarkson University Prof Receives $110,000 Grant from American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt has been awarded a $110,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF) for his research on metal-organic frameworks.

Mario Wriedt LabThe Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) grant supports a two-year project that began in January, "Tunable Host-Guest Interactions in Photo-Functional Metal-Organic Frameworks."

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new class of highly porous materials that Wriedt compares to a jungle gym structure, where the nodes represent metal clusters, the struts are organic ligands, and the pores of the framework are accessible for guest molecules.

Wriedt said this technology can be applied to the energy landscape, allowing for small-molecule separation of petroleum products and natural gas storage and purification.

For example, the MOFs can be used to refine industrial relevant petroleum gases, such as methane, by selectively adsorbing carbon dioxide molecules -- one of the major impurities in raw natural gases. Internal electric charges are proposed to attract these polar gas molecules into the MOF pores like a magnet.

Once the carbon dioxide is captured, the molecules must be released so they can be reused or put into storage, Wriedt said, but the tricky part is that this capture and release process should have a very low energy requirement to be efficient.

"What we propose to do is use light as a trigger to release CO2, so we design photoactive zwitterionic molecules as MOF building blocks that exhibit electric field gradients on their molecular surfaces," he said.

Zwitterions are sensitive to external stimuli, such as light and temperature, which allows the adsorption properties to be controlled significantly. Exposure to light allows the carbon dioxide molecules to be released and prevents the MOF from attracting other carbon dioxide molecules.

Wriedt said a preliminary study has shown that a significant amount of carbon dioxide molecules can be captured and released with this new adsorption-desorption process.

DNI grants from the ACS PRF aim to promote the careers of young faculty by supporting research of high scientific caliber and enhance the career opportunities of their students through research experiences. The goals of ACS PRF are to support fundamental research in the petroleum field and to develop the next generation of engineering and scientists through support of advanced scientific education.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt, pictured with his lab students for the spring 2016 semester, has been awarded a $110,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF). Back row, left to right: Hubert Bilan, Mario Wriedt and Justin Cruz. Middle row: T. Graham Fisher, Joshua Pyser, Katrina Lane and Kyle Ventura. Front row: Alexander Harley, Wen An, Darpandeep Aulakh, Veronica Bagundes and Juby Varghese.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/mwriedt-class.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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