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Solid Sorbents

Solid sorbents have high surface areas and can provide a more efficient alternative to selective analyte capture. PSI has developed selective sorbents for harvesting water from air, capturing chemical warfare agents, and separating gases from air such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. We have provided sorbent materials to a range of defense, energy and aerospace organizations.

Atmospheric Water Extraction

Water is a critical resource for survival. Many remote locations have limited or polluted water supplies. Existing methods of water purification, such as desalination, require large pieces of equipment and are energy intensive. Further, water is cumbersome to transport, presenting a logistical and economic challenge for supplying water to distant areas. The PSI team aims to overcome these challenges by creating a new class of water capturing materials incorporated into an ultra-lightweight and portable water harvesting system.

The centerpiece of the team’s technology is a novel Smart Moisture Absorbing Foam, or a SMAF. The SMAF will capture atmospheric water across a wide variety of environments, and over a range of temperatures and relative humidity. The SMAF also has very high water storage capacity, enabling daily operational cycles and minimizing frequency of user interaction. The key property of the SMAF is that water is released by compression. The material is ‘smart’ because it switches from hydrophilic (‘water loving’) to hydrophobic (‘water rejecting’) as it is compressed – thereby expelling any trapped water.

Typical state of the art water capture materials release water by energy-intensive heating. Releasing water by compression greatly reduces the amount of energy required to power the system, enabling ultimate portability.

PSI’s AWE Prototype Device and Example Use Cases

Benefit to Warfighter/Customer:

The AWE prototype is a first-of-a-kind system that extracts water from air in a compact, lightweight, and portable form factor.

Smart Sorbents for Chemical Warfare Agent Capture

PSI’s Smart sorbent technology is composed of high surface area mesoporous silica particles with integrated capture and clutter rejection chemistry that enables chemical sampling and storage by improving efficiency and capability by shifting functionality from macroscopic sampler system to the chemical interactions between sorbent and sorbate. PSI developed two prototypes that have better selectivity and clutter rejection performance than those of the state-of-the-art sorbents. This technology enables multiple applications including passive sampling/monitoring (e.g., badge, UAV-system) and capture/kill decontamination.


Continuous Metal-Organic Framework Production

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of polymeric materials that consist of inorganic and organic components. MOFs often exhibit high internal surface areas, resulting in considerable interest for applications in catalysis, gas storage, and molecular separations. PSI has developed a continuous process to rapidly synthesize selected MOFs of interest for nuclear waste capture and separations.

SEM image of MOF crystallite and MOF sorbent beds for nuclear off gas remediation.


Emerging Coatings, Energetics, Synthesis, And Process Scale Up



PSI’s quaternary ammonium cation technology provides high anti-microbial efficacy against a broad range of gram positive and gram-negative bacteria, as well as fungi.

Rare Earth Element Recovery

Rare Earth Element Recovery

PSI team developed a unique process to extract rare earth elements from coal ash.

Aluminum Hydride (Alane)

Aluminum Hydride (Alane)

PSI developed a coating to prevent Alane from losing hydrogen content during storage.

ASCENT Monopropellant

ASCENT Monopropellant

PSI is developing and scaling a micro-reactor process to make ASCENT components and intermediates.

Fine Ammonium Perchlorate

Fine Ammonium Perchlorate

PSI incorporates Fine and Ultrafine AP in energetics to produce material with unique properties and burn rates.


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