Novel metal-organic frameworks for efficient separation of alkane isomers

Schematic representation of two-stage MOFs absorbent bed for the separation of alkane mixtures to pure form of each isomer (straight line, mono-branched and di-branched)

Invention Summary:

The separation of alkane isomers represents a critical yet challenging process in the petrochemical industry to produce high-quality gasoline. As an alternative technology to energy intensive distillations, adsorptive separation by porous solids offers lower energy cost and higher efficiency.

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a series of novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for the efficient separation of alkane isomers. Zirconium-based MOFs have shown an adsorption capacity of n-hexane exceeding the current industry benchmark zeolite 5A by 70%, and the crystal structure, porosity and framework stability can be systematically tuned by judicious selection of organic ligands. In addition, by taking advantage of the temperature-dependent adsorptive properties of Calcium-based MOFs, straight chain, mono-branched, and/or multi-branched isomers could be separated from one another, further upgrading the RON of gasoline.

Market Applications:

  • Petroleum refining for production of high-RON gasoline
  • Industrial reactions requiring separation of linear and branched hydrocarbons
  • Separation of mono- and di-branched hydrocarbon isomers       


  • Separation efficiencies and adsorptive capacities exceeding the industry standard
  • High degree of mono- and di-m branched alkane separation selectivity

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.


Wang et al. Nature Communications. 2018, 9, 1745.

Wang et al. Energy & Environmental Science. 2018,11,1226-1231.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Shu Wang
Licensing Manager
Rutgers University
Chemical and petrochemical industry