Critical Factors Driving the High Volumetric Uptake of Methane in Cu-3(btc)(2)
A thorough experimental and computational study has been carried out to elucidate the mechanistic reasons for the high volumetric uptake of methane in the metal-organic framework Cu-3(btc)(2) (btc(3-) = 1,3,5-benzenetricarboxylate; HKUST-1). Methane adsorption data measured at several temperatures for Cu-3(btc)(2), and its isostructural analogue Cr-3(btc)(2), show that there is little difference in volumetric adsorption capacity when the metal center is changed. In situ neutron powder diffraction data obtained for both materials were used to locate four CD4 adsorption sites that fill sequentially. This data unequivocally shows that primary adsorption sites around, and within, the small octahedral cage in the structure are favored over the exposed Cu2+ or Cr2+ cations. These results are supported by an exhaustive parallel computational study, and contradict results recently reported using a time-resolved diffraction structure envelope (TRDSE) method. Moreover, the computational study reveals that strong methane binding at the open metal sites is largely due to methane-methane interactions with adjacent molecules adsorbed at the primary sites instead of an electronic interaction with the metal center. Simulated methane adsorption isotherms for Cu-3(btc)(2) are shown to exhibit excellent agreement with experimental isotherms, allowing for additional simulations that show that modifications to the metal center, ligand, or even tuning the overall binding enthalpy would not improve the working capacity for methane storage over that measured for Cu-3(btc)(2) itself.