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How to tailor porous boron nitride properties for applications in interfacial processes

ITskou, I; L'Hermitte, A; Marchesini, S; Tian, T; Petit, C (2023) How to tailor porous boron nitride properties for applications in interfacial processes. Accounts of Materials Research, 4 (2). pp. 143-155.

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The research of new porous materials for applications in interfacial processes is key to addressing global energy and sustainability challenges. For example, porous materials can be used to store fuels such as hydrogen or methane or to separate chemical mixtures reducing the energy currently required by thermal separation processes. Their catalytic properties can be exploited to convert adsorbed molecules into valuable or less hazardous chemicals, thereby reducing energy consumption or pollutants emissions. Porous boron nitride (BN) has appeared as a promising material for applications in molecular separations, gas storage and catalysis owing to its high surface area and thermal stability, as well as its tunable physical properties and chemistry.

However, the production of porous BN is still limited to laboratory scale and its formation mechanism as well as ways to control porosity and chemistry are yet to be fully understood. In addition, studies have pointed towards the instability of porous BN materials when exposed to humidity, which could significantly impact performance in industrial applications. Studies on porous BN performance and recyclability when employed in adsorption, gas storage and catalysis remain limited, despite encouraging preliminary studies. Moreover, porous BN powder must be shaped into macrostructures (e.g. pellets) to be used commercially. However, common methods to shape porous materials into macrostructures often cause a reduction in the surface area and/or mechanical strength.

In recent years, research groups, including ours, have started addressing the challenges discussed above. Herein, we summarize our collective findings through a selection of key studies. Firstly, we discuss the chemistry and structure of BN, clarifying confusion around terminology and discussing the hydrolytic instability of the material in relation to its structure and chemistry. We demonstrate a way to reduce the instability in water while still maintaining high specific surface area. We propose a mechanism for the formation of porous BN and discuss the effects of different synthesis parameters on the structure and chemistry of porous BN, therefore providing a way to tune its properties for selected applications. While the discussed syntheses often lead to a powder product, we also present ways to shape porous BN powders into macrostructures while still maintaining high accessible surface area for interfacial processes. Finally, we evaluate porous BN performance for chemical separations, gas storage and catalysis.

While the above highlights key advances in the field, further work is needed to allow deployment of high specific surface area BN . Specifically, we suggest evaluating its hydrolytic stability, refining further the ways to shape the material into stable and reproducible macrostructures, establishing clear design rules to produce BN with specific chemistry and porosity and finally, providing standardized test procedures to evaluate porous BN catalytic and sorptive properties to facilitate comparison.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Advanced Materials > Functional Materials
Divisions: Chemical & Biological Sciences
Identification number/DOI: 10.1021/accountsmr.2c00148
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2023 10:49
URI: http://eprintspublications.npl.co.uk/id/eprint/9831

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