A continuous flow chemistry approach for the ultrafast and low-cost synthesis of MOF-808†
Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are promising materials for a wide range of applications given their chemical stability and structural tunability. Most traditional MOF synthesis methods use batch reactors with intrinsic inefficiencies during scale-up that negatively impact process productivity. Here, we report a low-cost and energy-efficient continuous manufacturing process for MOF-808—a Zr-MOF widely studied as a catalyst and adsorbent in industrially important processes—using flow-through reactors that increase process yields and minimize solvent use compared to batch processes. The flow platform allowed us to investigate the influence of several synthesis parameters, including residence time, linker concentration, and volumetric ratio of modulator and solvent on the crystallization process. Under optimal conditions, the N,N-dimethylformamide solvent and formic acid modulator volumetric amounts were decreased by 84% and 67%, respectively, and resulted in an increase in productivity (defined in units of kgMOF m−3 day−1) by two orders of magnitude with similar yields, compared to established batch synthesis methods. A process engineering assessment based on laboratory-scale synthesis routes was performed to compare energy and cost savings for flow and batch workflows, indicating that solvent use was the largest contributor to the overall cost. The methodology presented in this work opens new pathways for critical assessment and optimization of continuous manufacturing routes on a lab-scale environment, which serve as a preliminary step for the transition to more efficient MOF synthesis routes at the industrial scale.