Skip to content

Porous Liquids for Selective Uptake and Release of Gases

A new class of liquid materials that contain microscopic cavities, each the size of a single molecule.

Published: 10th August 2021
Porous Liquids for Selective Uptake and Release of Gases
Please note, header image is purely illustrative. Source: tommyvideo, Pixabay, CC0

Technology Overview

Porous liquids are a new class of liquid materials that contain microscopic cavities (pores), each the size of a single molecule. They contain up to 10,000 times the number of cavities that are found in conventional liquids, and up to around 20% of the liquid is actually empty space.

Thanks to these cavities, porous liquids can absorb large amounts of gas and they can be tuned to selectively absorb one gas over another — as for porous solids, which are widely applied in industry. However, a critical advantage over porous solids is that porous liquids can also flow through pipes, meaning that they can be applied in a host of different ways.

For example, they can be implemented in continuous flow separations or be drop-in replacements for liquid absorption systems based on conventional liquids, such as amine solutions.


Fluidity ‑ unlike porous solids, they can be circulated and thereby implement gas separations efficiently in continuous flow processes.

Size - and shape-selective dissolution of gases – unlike normal solvents, the dissolution of gases in porous liquids is controlled by the size and shape of the pores. Porous liquids can therefore be tailored to dissolve one gas over another with high selectivity. The pores in porous liquids also enable vastly greater amounts of gases to dissolve than is possible in conventional solvents.

They are designable ‑ porous liquids are a modular platform technology and can be made from a wide range of different components. The properties of the porous liquid such as gas solubility, gas selectivity, viscosity, operating temperature range, toxicity, biocompatibility and conductivity can all be controlled to suit a given application.


CO2 Capture ‑ Carbon capture is one of the great technical challenges of our age. Step changes in current technologies are needed both to reduce CO2 emissions and also to efficiently separate CO2 from valuable fuel sources such as natural gas and biogas. Porous liquids have superior properties to the liquid absorbents used in current technologies and can also reduce the overall process cost and make CO2 capture affordable

Hydrocarbon Separations ‑ Porous solids have been widely investigated for hydrocarbon separations, particularly for ethane/ethene and propane/propene in the petrochemical industry. Currently these gases are separated by cryogenic distillation with associated high energy costs. Porous solids can have good selectivity (up to 50 for ethene over ethane) and adsorption high capacity at ambient temperature (up to 8 mmol/g), but there are as yet few commercial applications. We can formulate such solids into porous liquids thus greatly lowering energy costs for continuous, liquid separations.

Noble Gas Capture ‑ Xenon has important practical uses but it is a very minor component in air (0.087%) – there is approximately one bucket-full of xenon in a space the size of the Royal Albert Hall. This rare gas is thus difficult to capture: it is an expensive by-product of air distillation. Porous liquids offer a solution for capturing and purifying this valuable resource by separating it from abundant but contaminated nuclear reprocessing gases. Direct capture of xenon from air may also be possible by designing porous liquids that are perfect hosts for this gas. Porous liquids promise enhanced ease of operation at lower cost. We have also developed materials that can capture the radioactive pollutant gas radon very effectively, suggesting applications in environmental protection and monitoring.

Energy From Waste:

Biogas, generated from agricultural waste, is a valuable, growing source of methane, which can provide electricity for homes and fuel for cars. However, biogas also contains large amounts of CO2 and some H2S and often these impurities need to be removed before use. The best current methods for this separation are based on amine solvents, but these suffer from high running costs. Porous liquids can selectively dissolve large amounts of CO2 and H2S and they are more energy efficient than amine technology, thereby reducing the operating costs substantially. Being liquids, they are also drop-in alternatives to amine solvents, thus avoiding expensive retrofitting of plant.


We invented porous liquids and lead the world in this technology. We will help to solve your company’s problems and realise new opportunities using our team’s expertise in porous liquids and related materials combined with our industry knowledge and commercial experience. We provide solution-focused consulting, research and development, and technology licensing.

IP Status
  • Patent application submitted
  • Licensing
  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner