Diffusion of methane and other alkanes in metal-organic frameworks for natural gas storage

Bhaskarjyoti Borah, Hongda Zhang, Randall Q. Snurr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Diffusion of methane, ethane, propane and n-butane was studied within the micropores of several metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) of varying topologies, including the MOFs PCN-14, NU-125, NU-1100 and DUT-49. Diffusion coefficients of the pure components, as well as methane/ethane, methane/propane and methane/butane binary mixtures, were calculated using molecular dynamics simulations to understand the effect of the longer alkanes on uptake of natural gas in MOFs. The calculated self-diffusion coefficients of all four components are on the order of 10-8m2/s. The diffusion coefficients of the pure components decrease as a function of chain length in all of the MOFs studied and show different behaviour as a function of loading in different MOFs. The self-diffusivities follow the trend DPCN-14<DNU-125≈DNU-1100<DDUT-49, which is exactly the reverse order of the densities of the MOFs: PCN-14>NU-125≈NU-1100>DUT-49. By comparing the diffusion of pure methane and methane mixtures with the higher alkanes, it is observed that the diffusivity of methane is unaffected by the presence of the higher alkanes in the MOFs considered, indicating that the diffusion path of methane is not blocked by the higher alkanes present in natural gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Science
StatePublished - Mar 3 2015


  • Adsorption
  • Diffusivity
  • MOF
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Molecular simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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