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Posted: Apr 04, 2012
Framergy to Partner With the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program
(Nanowerk News) framergy™, which was recently accepted into the Texas A&M Science Business Accelerator, has teamed up with engineers from the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), a NASA and State of Texas funded initiative designed to speed the transfer of knowledge and technology of the U.S. Space Program to small businesses, to propel commercialization of its proprietary energy-storing Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), the most porous material known to man. framergy™ is focused on commercializing a new class of MOFs created at Texas A&M University in the laboratory of Dr. Hong-Cai "Joe" Zhou, an accomplished leader in the MOF category.
framergy™ and SATOP will be working to condense these highly porous materials for use in vehicular natural gas (methane) storage and other gas storage systems. The goal of the project is to create an effective method for condensing powders of these materials while maintaining microporosity. By complimenting work done at Texas A&M University to develop advanced porous materials, an engineered solution to enhance packing density will help bring an efficient methane storage system for vehicular use within reach.
According to framergy™ Executive Director Jason Mathew Ornstein, "The primary challenge facing the development of absorbed gas technologies for vehicular fuel systems lies in the volumetric storage capacity of porous materials." By working with SATOP, framergy™ will optimize the packing density of MOFs without destroying the microporosity of individual MOF crystallites. framergy™ founder, Dr. Zhou, is a leader in the design of methane absorption materials, such as MOFs, which could reduce the need for expensive multi-stage gas compressors and dangerous pressurized gas cylinders on vehicles which operate with Natural Gas. framergy™ estimates that once complete, this project would be immediately implemented into design specifications for an idealized natural gas storage material for vehicles and overcome other barriers to a Natural Gas Economy.
About the Natural Gas Economy
The United States has a formidable supply of natural gas available for extraction. Recent discoveries have led the Energy Information Administration to estimate that there are 1,279.5 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable natural gas resources in the United States alone. The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and is also considered to be the cleanest of all fossil fuels, emitting far fewer harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide. Natural Gas prices in the US have recently fallen to their lowest levels in 10 years, prompting Francisco Blanch at Merrill Lynch to publish "Ready for $1 per mBtu?". All of these factors have led to a recent push by the Obama Administration to increase natural gas use as a substitute for other fossil fuels. During his 2012 State of the Union Speech, President Barack Obama not only mentioned vehicular use of Natural Gas, but also spoke about the need to commercialize Natural Gas Storage.
framergy™ is heeding such suggestions and designing solutions to migrate current 1.0 technology for Natural Gas Storage, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), to Absorbed Natural Gas (ANG) Storage. This will extend vehicle range for natural gas vehicles. ANG vehicles can store natural gas at lower pressures compared to CNG vehicles, notably 500 to 1,000 psi versus 3,500 to 10,000 psi, allowing for more onboard gas storage. This also means significant infrastructure cost savings for filling stations, lower fuel costs for motorists, and more efficient use of a vehicle's space. In fact, ANG vehicles could even eliminate the need for expensive infrastructure, as car owners could refuel their vehicles from the home's natural gas supply.
MOFs are intricate molecular structures with chambers that can store methane, hydrogen and other gases in a highly-efficient manner – a newly created class of transformational, rationally-designed reusable materials that react with and can even change the environment around them by absorbing or releasing selected substances.
"This new class of MOFs has an unprecedented ability to separate, trap and store specific gases from mixed sources," said Dr. Zhou, framergy's chief science officer. "This makes them ideal for hydrogen and methane gas storage solutions – among other applications."
MOFs are extremely small with incredible storage capacity, making them ideal energy warehouses, capable of storing hydrogen gas, natural gas and even electrical charges generated by wind. In their most common form they appear as crystalline powders resembling ordinary table salt, but MOFs are incredibly porous, with the highest internal surface area of any known substance.
In 2008, Dr. Zhou of Texas A&M University developed a groundbreaking new type of MOF, called PCN-14, which has the highest methane storage capacity measured to date. The compound has a surface area of over 2,000 m2/g, and a methane storage capacity 28% higher than the US Department of Energy (DOE) target level for methane-powered cars. This discovery is integral in the development of practical fuel storage applications.
framergy™ was established in early 2011 by a dedicated group of energy industrialists to commercialize the groundbreaking Metal Organic Framework innovations in Dr. Hong-Cai 'Joe' Zhou's laboratory at Texas A&M University. The Company enables industry to leverage the remarkable attributes of Metal Organic Frameworks in their businesses. "By moving down an entirely new path of tuning interactions instead of mimicking existing technologies, we have created precise molecule traps, opening up a new avenue of MOF design that can be applied to gas and liquid separations as well as in molecular recognition," said J. M. Ornstein, framergy TM's Executive Director. Located at the Texas A&M Science Business Accelerator, the Company provides Metal Organic Frameworks & Single Molecule Traps as a reliable, high-volume, high-quality, low cost product for clean energy and other applications. To learn more, visit http://www.framergy.com.
About the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP)
The Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program is administered by the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. It is a NASA and State of Texas funded initiative designed to speed the transfer of knowledge and technology of the U.S. Space Program to small businesses to solve technical challenges that lead to growth and sustainability. To learn more, visit http://www.spacetechsolutions.com/bahep/ .