In September 2012, the Pierre Potier prize medal was awarded to BASF for a new innovative process for the industrial production of aluminum-MOFs in aqueous medium. Its development is partly based on cooperative work with the team of Gerard Férey Gold Medal of the CNRS in 2010.
The porous hybrid solids MOFs - for Metal-Organic Frameworks - are hybrid metallo-organic structures which, thanks to their high internal surface area and high porosity, have unique properties in terms of storage gas (GHG emissions, hydrogen, natural gas ...), energy saving, temperature control, vectorization of actives molecules . They are therefore potentially useful for applications related to the sectors of energy, transport, health ....
The first works on aluminum-MOFs (Al-MOFs) have been made by Professor Gérard Férey and his group at the Institut Lavoisier de Versailles (CNRS 8180). Developing the hydrothermal synthesis of aluminum terephthalate MIL-53 (MIL = Material from Institut Lavoisier) in 2004 , they opened the way for the flourishing family of organoaluminium structures.
Convinced of the great potential of these materials, BASF researchers were the first to develop industrial processes for MOF materials of this type, including the MIL-53. These early successes have clearly boosted further R & D on these materials internationally, both in industry and academics.
Today, BASF has developed a new industrial process for the manufacture in aqueous medium of aluminum fumarate MOF (Basolite A520) in ton scale , stable in air and water.
The first step, which is to move from the laboratory scale to the industrial production with excellent economic, technical and environmental conditions, has been brilliantly successful.
But the adventure does not stop there. The first prototype vehicles powered by natural gas have been developed. Indeed, in order to verify the effectiveness of these materials in real situation, prototypes using this fuel have already proven their viability, especially in terms of security, as they passed the battery of safety tests required for permission to drive on public roads. Thus, several cars are equipped with tanks filled MOFs and are used daily in the research and production site of BASF, located in Ludwigshafen (Germany). This pilot phase is still in progress in order to optimize the technology and test it on other types of vehicles.
BASF hopes to start commercializing these products for this application within 1 to 2 years maximum and thus make the MOFs go from the status of a great discovery to a commercial success which is helpful to everyone.