UTSA research team offers cheaper way to separate acetylene from ethylene

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(March 21, 2011)--Banglin Chen, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the UTSA College of Sciences, and his research colleagues published a paper in Nature Communications on Feb. 22. The scholarly paper outlines a more efficient and less costly method to separate acetylene and ethylene. The chemicals, which have comparable molecular sizes and boiling points, are widely used in the manufacturing, alternative energy and agriculture industries.

Chen has focused his research career on microporous metal-organic framework materials for gas storage, separation and other chemical processes. In the March 4 issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Chen and his research colleagues target one very promising material for methane gas storage that has potential applications for compressed natural gas vehicles in the future.

"Scientists need to face the big challenges, and we need to figure out how to bring innovative ideas to market," said Chen. "Ultimately, I hope that my materials can be utilized commercially. It's one thing to do science and publish a paper. To see my work applied, that is my dream."

For his contributions to chemistry, Chen is recently ranked 15th on the Thompson Reuters Top Chemists of the Past Decade. Over the last decade, Chen has published 75 papers, many in top chemistry magazines such as Science, Accounts of Chemical Research and Journal of the American Chemical Society. His research publications have been cited more than 6,300 times. He also holds five U.S. patents for different aspects of metal-organic frameworks and a license for one metal-organic framework's characteristic gas storage.

A native of China, Chen earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from Zhejiang University in the People's Republic of China in 1985 and 1988, respectively. He earned a doctorate in chemistry in 2000 from the National University of Singapore before completing consecutive post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan, Cornell University and Louisiana State University. He joined the faculty at the University of Texas-Pan American in 2003. In 2009, he joined the UTSs Department of Chemistry as an associate professor.