In the first side-by-side tests of a half-dozen palladium- and iron-based catalysts for cleaning up the carcinogen TCE, Rice University scientists have found that palladium destroys TCE far faster than iron—up to a billion times faster in some cases.
Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have identified a catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at 5% of the cost. Since more than 60% of the investment in making microbial fuel cells is the cost of platinum, the discovery may lead to much more affordable energy conversion and storage devices.
Chemists don't like precious metals—at least not when they need to expensive materials as catalysts to accelerate reactions or guide them in a particular direction. And this is often the case. However, a team of scientists has now developed a catalyst using iron and aluminum that works just as well as the conventional palladium catalyst, but costs much less.
The design of a nature-inspired material that can make energy-storing hydrogen gas has gone holistic. Usually, tweaking the design of this particular catalyst—a work in progress for cheaper, better fuel cells—results in either faster or more energy-efficient production but not both. Now, researchers have found a condition that creates hydrogen faster without a loss in efficiency.
In a search for an inexpensive alternative to platinum, a team including researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory turned to carbon to develop a multi-walled carbon nanotube complex that consists of cylindrical sheets of carbon. The complex featured the desired properties, but researchers didn’t know why until they tried an innovative mix of electron imaging and spectroscopy to understand the relationships at play.
Eons ago, nature solved the problem of converting solar energy to fuels by inventing the process of photosynthesis. Plants convert sunlight to chemical energy in the form of biomass, while releasing oxygen as an environmentally benign byproduct. Devising a similar process by which solar energy could be captured and stored for use in vehicles or at night is a major focus of modern solar energy research.
Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, and Germany have figured out a key part of the industrial process for making methanol. It’s an important step toward improving the process—and eventually realizing the goal of turning a potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into fuel.
An international team of researchers has discovered how adding trace amounts of water can tremendously speed up chemical reactions—such as hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis—in which hydrogen is one of the reactants, or starting materials. Previous research had indicated this phenomenon, but until now the true importance of water to its effect has eluded chemists.
A detailed description of development of the first practical device that mimics the process of photosynthesis has recently been published in an American Chemical Society journal. Unlike earlier devices, which used costly ingredients, the new device is made from inexpensive materials and employs low-cost engineering and manufacturing processes.
Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential. Now, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials.
Engineers at Stanford University have found a novel method for “decorating” nanowires with chains of tiny particles to increase their electrical and catalytic performance. The new technique is simpler, faster and provides greater control than earlier methods and could lead to better batteries, solar cells and catalysts.
Scientists in Sweden say they have developed a molecular catalyzer with the ability to oxidize water to oxygen at speeds comparable to those in nature's own photosynthesis. This finding would be a world record for artificial photosynthesis.
In prototypes of the lithium-sulfur battery, lithium ions are exchanged between lithium- and sulfur-carbon electrodes. The sulfur is an excellent energy storage material due to its low weight. At the same time, sulfur is a poor conductor, so researchers have a devised a way to greatly improve conductivity using a porous network of carbon nanoparticles.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have combined gold nanoparticles with copper nanoparticles to form hybrid nanoparticles. Transformed into a powder they can catalyze a carbon dioxide reduction that uses less energy than previous methods and may help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at powerplants and other point sources.
A newly developed combination device for infrared spectroscopy has allowed researchers in Germany to conduct highly precise measurements of the vibration frequency of oxide materials at the surface. Surface defect analyses have previously been well-documented for metals, but materials such as titanium dioxide haven’t before been studied in such detail.
Scientists long have known that butterfly wings contain tiny scales that serve as natural solar collectors to enable butterflies, which cannot generate enough heat from their own metabolism, to remain active in the cold. Scientists in China have used this same structure, taken from a black butterfly to create a titanium dioxide-based device catalyst that significantly improved hydrogen production.
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators have developed a new catalyst that reversibly converts hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide to a liquid under very mild conditions. The work could lead to efficient ways to safely store and transport hydrogen for use as an alternative fuel.
Chemists at Brown University have created a triple-headed metallic nanoparticle that reportedly performs better and lasts longer than any other nanoparticle catalyst studied in fuel-cell reactions. The key is the addition of gold: It yields a more uniform crystal structure while removing carbon monoxide from the reaction.
Scientists at Tufts University have found a way to create a selective hydrogenation catalyst by scattering single atoms of palladium onto a copper base. The catalyst requires less of the expensive metal, and the process is greener, too, offering potentially significant economic and environmental benefits.
A research group at Drexel University has produced the first quantitative picture of the ionic liquid structure in a promising type of supercapacitor that uses microporous carbon electrodes. Ion adsorption in these electrodes produces the excellent performance exhibited by the supercapacitors, and the research could guide the design of better storage devices.
A new catalyst developed by chemists in The Netherlands with cooperation from Dow Benelux can convert materials to key components of various plastics, medicines, and paint without the use of petroleum. Made from tiny iron spheres, the catalyst can operate on a wood-like biomass raw materials.
When it comes to driving hydrogen production, a new catalyst built at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can do what was previously shown to happen only in nature: Store energy in hydrogen and release that energy on demand. This nickel-based complex drives the reaction, but is not consumed by it.
A technique from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory for creating a new molecule that structurally and chemically replicates the active part of the molybdenite catalyst paves the way for developing catalytic materials that can serve as effective low-cost alternatives to platinum for generating hydrogen gas from water.
In chemistry, downsizing can have positive attributes. Reducing the number of steps and reagents in synthetic reactions, for example, enables chemists to boost their productivity while reducing their environmental footprint. This type of ‘atom economy’ could soon improve, thanks to a new rare-earth metal catalyst developed at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute, Wako.
A new catalytic process discovered by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute could unleash a range of useful new byproducts from diesel fuel production. The team has reported the use of a mixed-metal catalyst to convert decane to a range of oxygenated aromatics.