Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


College of Engineering


Amro El Badawy

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Post-combustion CO2 capture is a promising approach for complementing other strategies to mitigate climate change. Liquid absorption is currently used to capture CO2 from post-combustion flue gases. However, the high energy cost required to regenerate the liquid absorbents is a major drawback for this process. As a result, solid sorbents have been investigated extensively in recent years as alternative media to capture CO2 from flue gases. For example, metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are nanoporous materials that have high surface areas, large pore volumes, and flexible designs. A large number of MOFs, however, suffer from 1) low CO2 adsorption capacity at low pressure, which is the typical condition for flue gases, 2) degradation upon exposure to water present in flue gases, and 3) low selectivity of CO2 when present in a mixture of gases. Zeolitic Imidazolate Frameworks (ZIFs) are heavily investigated MOFs for CO2 sorption applications because they have better selectivity for CO2 compared to other MOFs and are resistant to degradation in water due to their hydrophobic nature. However, ZIFs (e.g., ZIF-8) investigated for CO2 sorption applications are typically produced using toxic solvents and their CO2 sorption capacity is drastically lower than other types of MOFs. Post-synthesis modifications with amine functional groups have been known to increase CO2 sorption capacity and selectivity within nanoporous materials. For ZIFs, previous research showed that sufficient loading with linear polyethyleneimine increased their CO2 sorption capacity. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to a) investigate the CO2 sorption capacity of ZIF-8 synthesized by solvothermal methods that use more eco-friendly solvents (e.g., methanol and water) and b) introduce post-synthetic modifications to ZIF-8 using branched polyethyleneimine (bPEI) to enhance its sorption capacity. A custom quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) system was assembled and used to measure the CO2 sorption capacity of unmodified and bPEI-modified ZIF-8 sorbent. The tests were conducted at 0.3 - 1 bar. The results showed that the unmodified ZIF-8 synthesized in methanol (ZIF-8-MeOH) had comparable crystal structure, thermal stability, surface area, and chemical properties to that of literature (Ta 2018). ZIF-8-MeOH had a surface area of 1300 m2/g and a CO2 sorption capacity of 0.85 mmol CO2/g ZIF-8 @ 1 bar. This surface area and sorption capacity are comparable to those of ZIF-8 made in dimethylformamide (DMF). Therefore, ZIF-8-MeOH proved to be a worthy candidate MOF for replacing the ZIF-8 made in DMF for CO2 capture research. Water-based ZIF-8 was also synthesized in this study; however, its CO2 sorption capacity was not tested because it exhibited a significantly lower surface area (732 m2/g) compared to that of ZIF-8-MeOH. Modification of the ZIF-8-MeOH with bPEI resulted in a decrease in its CO2 sorption capacity. This undesired outcome is likely a result of insufficient bPEI load (mass attached), on ZIF-8-MeOH (~ 10% w/w) combined with the surface area lost (~ 770 m2/g) due to bPEI blocking some of the ZIF-8-MeOH pores. Therefore, the bPEI load attained in this study was not enough to compensate for the loss of surface area of the modified ZIF-8 and thus, the CO2 sorption capacity decreased. Future investigations should enhance the post-synthetic modification by increasing the loading of amine functional groups onto the eco-friendlier ZIF-8-MeOH used in this study.