Benzene is an important air pollutant and a key chemical feedstock for the synthesis of cyclohexane. Because of the small difference of 0.6 ℃ in their boiling points, the separation of benzene and cyclohexane is extremely challenging. Here, we report the high adsorption of benzene at low pressure and efficient separation of benzene/cyclohexane, achieved by the control of pore chemistry of two families of robust metal-organic frameworks, UiO-66 and MFM-300. At 298 K, UiO-66-CuII shows an exceptional adsorption of benzene of 3.92 mmol g-1 at 1.2 mbar and MFM-300(Sc) exhibits a high selectivity of 166 for the separation of benzene/cyclohexane (v/v = 1/1) mixture. In situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction and neutron powder diffraction, and multiple spectroscopic techniques reveal the binding mechanisms of benzene and cyclohexane in these materials. We also report the first example of direct visualisation of reversible binding of benzene at an open Cu(II) site within metal-organic frameworks.
|Publication status||Published - 2023|