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Biologically derived fuels are a promising, sustainable

alternative to fossil fuels and would eliminate negative impacts on the

environment, public health, and alleviate energy conflict if used.
However, biofuel production practices are not efficient enough to
make biofuel a realistic alternative energy source due to ineffective
methods of product filtration.
Previous research has identified Mixed-Matrix Membranes
(MMMs) as a realistic alternative to standard membranes.

An important aspect of MMM manufacturing is creating large
enough nanocrystals to extend through the polymer matrix to create
an uninterrupted pathway for filtering biofuel. This research addresses
how to alter the size of nanocrystals with a specific focus on Zeolite
Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs).
Lindsay Wilson, Liana OConnor, Alexa Tagaban
Saving The World: One ZIFINC Membrane at a Time
Fig 1: MMM Diagram
Image reproduced:
(Huidan Yin. n.d.
[Transport in ZIFINC
pervap membranes])
Various factors were tested to observe their impact on the size
of ZIF structure. The original protocol for creating ZIFs was
manipulated by changing the ratios of combined chemicals and the
temperature at which the chemicals were combined.

X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) was then used to determine if the tested
ratios retained the correct ZIF structure or if the change of the
protocol was too great.
ZIF structure was also confirmed using an Environmental
Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) to give a visual representation of
shape which was expected to be cube-like.
Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) was used to give accurate
quantitative data in relation to structure size by calculating the
average particle size of each test ratio.
Tables 1 & 2: Chemical amounts and temperatures for each tested ratio.
Fig. 2 & 3: Examples of ZIF
structures (ZIF-8 vs. ZIF-
71). Image source:
(R. Banerjee. 2013 [High-
Throughput Synthesis of
ZIF and Application toCO2
How did the change in protocol impact ZIF structure?

The XRD results indicated that all ZIF ratios and temperatures were the correct ZIF structure except for the 1:1 ratio and 65 degree test; these
results were therefore omitted from analysis. The ESEM results also indicated whether the ZIF structure was correct, to a lesser degree than XRD. For
example, the largest 4:1 ratio ZIFs can be estimated to be approximately 2m across each face. Contrastingly the 1:1 ratio ZIFs are both smaller and
different in shape.
Fig. 4 & 5: XRD results for
the 2:1 ratio (left) and the
1:1 ratio (right)

The red line in each
graph represents the 4:1
ratio, the controlled
element, while the blue
line is the tested ratio.
Fig. 6 & 7: ESEM images from
the 4:1 ratio (left) and the 1:1
ratio (right)

The 4:1 ratio (left) retained
the cube-like structure
expected while the 1:1 ratio
(right) became much more
How did the change in protocol impact ZIF size?
The DLS results gave us average values of size for each tested ratio, shown below:

Tables 3 (top): Raw data collect from DLS showing average particle size
of ratio-tested ZIFs.
Table 4 (bottom): Raw data collected from DLS showing average particle
size of temperature-tested ZIFs.
Fig. 8 (top): Analysis of ratio-tested DLS data indicating statistical significance of ZIF size results
Fig. 9 (bottom): Analysis of temperature-tested DLS data indicating statistical significance of ZIF size results
The statistical analysis of the DLS results showed that changing
the temperature significantly changes the size of ZIFs while changing
the ratio does not. Therefore, future researchers can manipulate the
temperature in order to create larger or smaller ZIFs as needed. This
new understanding is a step towards making biofuels a more promising
fuel alternative by focusing on product production.
Suggested next steps to build off of this research would be to
look at polymer bases to be used in combination with ZIFs. An ideal
polymer would have a high selectivity factor for alcohols and not allow
water or other liquids through. Another approach would be to combine
various polymer with ZIFs and test the effectiveness as a whole.
Smith, W. F. (1993). Foundations of Material Science and Engineering: Second
Edition. United States of America: McGraw Hill, Inc.
Health and Environmental Effects of Air Pollution. In South Carolina
Department of Health and Environmental Control. Retrieved from
R. Banerjee, A. Phan, B. Wang, C. Knobler, H. Furukawa, M. OKeeffe, O.M.
Yaghi. (February 15, 2008). High-Throughput Synthesis of Zeolitic
Imidazolate Frameworks and Application to CO2 Capture. Science:
The Worlds Leading Journal of Original Scientific Research, Global
News, and Commentary (Vol. 319 no. 5865 pp. 939-943). Retrieved
U.S. Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early
Release Overview (DOE/EIA-0383ER), 8. Retrieved from
U.S. Energy Information Administration. Monthly Energy Review, November
2013 (DOE/EIA-0035), 23, 43, 55, 142. Retrieved from
Yin, H. Zeolite Imidazolate Framework Inclusion NanoComposite (ZIFINC)
membranes for recovery of biobutanol through pervaporation.
(Unpublished project proposal). Arizona State University, Tempe.
Z.Y. Wang, G.L. Cao, C. Jiang, J. Song, J. Zheng, Q. Yang. (2013) Butanol
production from wheat straw by combining crude enzymatic
hydrolysis and anaerobic fermentation using Clostridium
acetobutylicum ATCC82. Energy and Fuels. 27, 5900-5906. Retrieved

Implementation of a more effective membrane in combination
with the pervaporation process has the potential to significantly
increase the production rates of more sustainable biofuels. This could
reduce prices for biofuel available to the public by taking pressure off
of production companies to meet demand. A cheaper, faster, and more
efficient system of biofuel production could be a great incentive to
begin making alternative energy a more prevalent option in society
because it demonstrates the ability for alternative to compete with
traditional fuel sources.
Fig. 10: Flow chart of problem intervention depicting problems (red),
solutions (green), and subsequent problems (also red).
Lack of Research
Mixed-Matrix Membranes
Fossil Fuel