Novel silver ions based technology slashes energy consumption

Novel silver ions based technology slashes energy consumption

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According to a research study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a team of Colorado University – Boulder (CU-Boulder) researchers developed a new material made of silver ions-based molecules that could drastically reduce energy used in producing a wide variety of plastic products and separating ethylene and ethane. According to Matthew Cowan, a CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper, the silver ion can be thought of as a working hand that can tell the difference between ethylene and ethane and it ‘grabs’ the ethylene out of the mixture. When all the ethylene has been grabbed, the ethane is removed and the hand releases the ethylene.The new material has 13 times more separating power than previous materials used to separate ethylene and ethane and requires much less energy than the traditional distillation technique. Despite their potential for saving energy, silver ions can be more sensitive to contaminants, a problem that would have to be addressed before the technique could be commercially viable. The gas mixtures of ethylene and ethane are a byproduct from petroleum refineries, and they can contain impurities that could deactivate the silver ion “hands.” But researchers are hopeful that the molecule they are packaging the silver ions into may be able to protect them from contaminants.