Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) represent a promising class of metallic catalysts for reduction of nitrogen-containing contaminants (NCCs), such as 4-nitrophenol (4-NP). Nevertheless, most researches involving MOFs for 4-NP reduction employ noble metals in the form of fine powders, making these powdered noble metal-based MOFs impractical and inconvenient for realistic applications. Thus, it would be critical to develop non-noble-metal MOFs which can be incorporated into macroscale and porous supports for convenient applications. Herein, the present study proposes to develop a composite material which combines advantageous features of macroscale/porous supports, and nanoscale functionality of MOFs. In particular, copper foam (CF) is selected as a macroscale porous medium, which is covered by nanoflower-structured CoO to increase surfaces for growing a cobaltic MOF, ZIF-67. The resultant composite comprises of CF covered by CoO nanoflowers decorated with ZIF-67 to form a hierarchical 3D-structured catalyst, enabling this ZIF-67@Cu foam (ZIF@CF) a promising catalyst for reducing 4-NP, and other NCCs. Thus, ZIF@CF can readily reduce 4-NP to 4-AP with a significantly lower Ea of 20 kJ/mol than reported values. ZIF@CF could be reused over 10 cycles and remain highly effective for 4-NP reduction. ZIF@CF also efficiently reduces other NCCs, such as 2-nitrophenol, 3-nitrophenol, methylene blue, and methyl orange. ZIF@CF can be adopted as catalytic filters to enable filtration-type reduction of NCCs by passing NCC solutions through ZIF@CF to promptly and conveniently reduce NCCs. The versatile and advantageous catalytic activity of ZIF@CF validates that ZIF@CF is a promising and practical heterogeneous catalyst for reductive treatments of NCCs.
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