Net Adsorption: A Thermodynamic Framework for Supercritical Gas Adsorption and Storage in Porous Solids

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The thermodynamic treatment of adsorption phenomena is based on the Gibbs dividing surface, which is conceptually clear for a flat surface. On a flat surface, the primary extensive property is the area of the solid. As applications became more significant, necessitating microporous solids, early researchers such as McBain and Coolidge implemented the Gibbs definition by invoking a reference state for microporous solids. The mass of solid is used as a primary extensive property because surface area loses its physical meaning for microporous solids. A reference state is used to fix the hypothetical hyperdividing surface typically using helium as a probe molecule, resulting in the commonly used excess adsorption; experimentalists measure this reference state for each new sample. Molecular simulations, however, provide absolute adsorption. Theoreticians perform helium simulations to convert absolute to excess adsorption, mimicking experiments for comparison. This current structure of adsorption thermodynamics is rigorous (if the conditions for reference state helium measurements are completely disclosed) but laborious. In addition, many studies show that helium, or any other probe molecule for that matter, does adsorb. albeit to a small extent. We propose a novel thermodynamic framework, net adsorption, which completely circumvents the use of probe molecules to fix the reference state for each microporous sample. Using net adsorption. experimentalists calibrate their apparatus only once without any sample in the system. Theoreticians can directly calculate net adsorption; no additional simulations with a probe gas are necessary. Net adsorption also provides a direct indication of the density enhancement achieved (by using an adsorbent) over simple compression for gas (e.g.. hydrogen) storage applications.

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Gumma S, Talu O. Net Adsorption: A Thermodynamic Framework for Supercritical Gas Adsorption and Storage in Porous Solids. Langmuir. 2010;26:17013-17023.