Understanding CO 2 capture in amine-functionalized MCM-41 by molecular simulation

Santiago Builes, Lourdes F. Vega

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


It has been demonstrated that merging the inherent sorptive behavior of amorphous silica with organic groups increases the adsorption capabilities of the solid silica. However, the underlying mechanism of the adsorption process in the functionalized materials is not fully understood, limiting the possibility of designing optimal adsorbent materials for different applications; hence, the availability of complementary methods to advance in this field is of great interest. Here we present results concerning the adsorption of CO 2 in amine-functionalized silica materials, by Monte Carlo simulations, providing new insight into the capture mechanism. We propose a simulation methodology for the design of postsynthesis-functionalized silica materials in which realistic model adsorbents are generated using an energy bias selection scheme for the possible grafting sites. This methodology can be applied to different materials. In this work, we evaluate a model MCM-41 for CO 2 adsorption using grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations, and compared the results with available experimental data. A new methodology is presented, which allows accounting for the chemisorbed CO 2 on the adsorption isotherms. The results indicate that although chemisorption is an important part of this process at low pressures, physisorption also plays a significant role in the capture of CO 2 in these materials. Functionalization increases the interactions of the CO 2 molecules with the surface, whereas it decreases the available space for adsorption of CO 2; the overall efficiency of the improved adsorption lies on the availability of adsorption space versus stronger interactions. In addition to the adsorption isotherms, we studied the configurations of the amine chains during the adsorption process for different degrees of functionalization as well as the effect of the concentration of grafted amines on the adsorption isotherm. The overall results show that molecular simulations serve as a guide to quantify the CO 2 amount that can be easily sorbed for carbon capture applications, highlighting the importance of this approach.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)3017-3024
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2012


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