A low-cost, nanostructured composite material developed by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has shown performance comparable to Pt/C as a catalyst for the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen. An efficient, low-cost catalyst is essential for realizing the promise of hydrogen as a clean, environmentally friendly fuel. Researchers led... Read more →


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, with colleagues at Purdue and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), have plated a one nanometer thick coating of platinum on a core of cobalt to create a cost-effective and highly efficient fuel cell catalyst. A paper on their work was published last year in the... Read more →


Rice researchers show how to optimize nanomaterials as replacements for platinum in fuel-cell cathodes

Nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes or modified graphene nanoribbons may be suitable replacements for platinum for fast oxygen reduction, the key reaction in fuel cells that transform chemical energy into electricity, according to Rice University researchers. The findings are from computer simulations by Rice scientists who set out to see how carbon... Read more →


Researchers develop effective exhaust catalyst for lower temperature exhaust

To improve fuel efficiency, advanced combustion engines are being designed to minimize the amount of waste heat in the exhaust. As a result, future generations of exhaust after-treatment catalysts must perform at temperatures that are 100 °C lower than current catalysts. Researchers at Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory... Read more →


Scientists develop method for direct conversion of methane to methanol or acetic acid under mild conditions

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Tufts University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have shown that mononuclear rhodium species, anchored on a zeolite or titanium dioxide support suspended in aqueous solution, can catalyze the direct conversion of methane to methanol and acetic acid using oxygen and carbon monoxide under mild conditions.... Read more →


A team led by researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, Merced has developed an efficient molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) catalyst for driving the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). In a study published in the journal Advanced Materials, the team reports that metastable and temperature-sensitive chemically exfoliated MoS2 (ce-MoS2)... Read more →


WVU, NETL partner with Pitt, Shell to develop process to transform stranded natural gas into marketable products

Researchers at West Virginia University will lead a team that will investigate ways to convert stranded gas resources into value-added liquid products that could reduce the United States’ demand for crude oil by up to 20%. The WVU-led team will combine the capabilities of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)... Read more →


New nanostructured earth abundant metal catalysts rival platinum on a weight basis; diesel emissions treatment

A development in catalysis research by academics at the Universities of St Andrews and Newcastle could lead to new systems to treat diesel emissions. Catalysts are typically metallic nanoparticles—often platinum group metals—that are finely deposited upon a substrate. The activity and durability of the catalyst critically depends upon the interaction... Read more →


DOE proposes $99M for Energy Frontier Research Centers in FY 2018

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced a proposed $99 million in Fiscal Year 2018 funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate transformative scientific advances for the most challenging topics in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, and biosciences. (DE-FOA-0001810) Since their establishment by DOE’s Office of Science in... Read more →


Gevo, Los Alamos to collaborate to develop high-energy-density renewable missle fuel

Gevo, Inc. will be partnering with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on a project to improve the energy density of certain Gevo hydrocarbon products, such as its alcohol-to-jet-fuel (ATJ) (earlier post), to meet product specifications for tactical fuels for specialized military applications such as RJ-4 (exo-dime- thyltetrahydrodicylopentadienes), RJ-6 (a blend... Read more →


New hybrid photocatalyst for highly efficient hydrogen production from water

Researchers at the University of Central Florida, with colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Tsinghua University, developed a new hybrid nanomaterial—a nonmetal plasmonic MoS2@TiO2 heterostructure—for highly efficient photocatalytic H2 generation from water. As reported in an open access paper in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the... Read more →


Tulane, SACHEM collaborate on SSZ-39 zeolite for improved SCR systems

Members of Tulane University’s Shantz Lab will collaborate with scientists from chemical science company SACHEM to develop next-generation materials to reduce automotive emissions. SACHEM is funding the effort. Under the direction of Daniel Shantz, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Entergy Chair of Clean Energy Engineering, the... Read more →


U. Houston-led project looking for new exhaust treatment catalysts for low-temperature lean-burn combustion engines

A chemical engineer from the University of Houston is leading a $2.1-million project to find new catalytic materials that work at lower exhaust temperatures, allowing automakers to build vehicles that operate more efficiently while retaining the ability to clean emissions before they leave the tailpipe. Michael Harold, chairman of the... Read more →


Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a new electrocatalyst that can directly convert carbon dioxide into multicarbon fuels and alcohols using record-low inputs of energy. The work is the latest in a round of studies coming out of Berkeley Lab tackling the... Read more →


Ballard Power Systems has collaborated with Nisshinbo Holdings to develop a Non-Precious-Metal Catalyst (NPMC) for use in the world’s first commercialized NPMC-based proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell product. Nisshinbo and Ballard have jointly collaborated on the development of NPMC since 2013. (Earlier post.) Ballard has successfully incorporated the Non... Read more →


Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a highly selective catalyst consisting of ruthenium nanoparticles supported on niobium pentoxide (Ru/Nb2O5). In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team demonstrated that Ru/Nb2O5 is capable of producing primary amines from carbonyl compounds with ammonia... Read more →


Researchers led by a team from KAUST have found a more sustainable route to hydrogen fuel production using chaotic, light-trapping materials that mimic natural photosynthetic water splitting. In a paper in the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers report a new photocatalyst for hydrogen evolution based on metal epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) metamaterials.... Read more →


Researchers develop cheaper, greener biofuels processing catalyst using waste metals and bacteria

A team from the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, with colleagues from the University of Birmingham and Aarhus University, have developed a nanosized bio-Pd/C catalyst for upgrading algal bio-oil. Published in an open-access paper in the journal Fuel, their findings point to a cheaper, more environmentally friendly... Read more →


Purdue, Notre Dame, Cummins discovery could lead to new SCR catalyst design for improved NOx control

Researchers at Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame and Cummins have discovered a new reaction mechanism that could be used to improve SCR catalyst designs for pollution-control systems to further reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust. The research focuses on zeolites—workhorses in petroleum and chemical refineries... Read more →


A team at the University of Delaware has synthesized renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes by hydrodeoxygenation of lignocellulose-derived high-carbon furylmethanes over ReOx-modified Ir/SiO2 catalysts under mild reaction conditions (170 ˚C, 5 MPa). Their paper is featured on the cover of the journal ChemSusChem. In their work, they found that Ir−ReOx/SiO2 with a... Read more →


ORNL, LANL study provides insights into performance of non-precious metal fuel-cell catalysts; atomic-level observations

In order to reduce the cost of next-generation polymer electrolyte fuel cells for vehicles, researchers have been developing alternatives to the prohibitively expensive platinum and platinum-group metal (PGM) catalysts currently used in fuel cell electrodes. New work at Los Alamos (LANL) and Oak Ridge national laboratories (ORNL) is now resolving... Read more →


Researchers in the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour have produced dual-surface laser-induced graphene (LIG) electrodes on opposing faces of a plastic sheet that split water into hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side. The high porosity and electrical conductivity of LIG facilitates the efficient contact... Read more →


Scientists at Rice University and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have predicted and created new two-dimensional electrocatalysts—low-cost, layered transition-metal dichalcogenides (MX2) based on molybdenum and tungsten—to extract hydrogen from water with high performance and low cost. In the process, they also created a simple model to screen materials for catalytic... Read more →


An international research team led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have developed a light-activated material that can chemically convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide without generating unwanted byproducts. When exposed to visible light, the material,... Read more →


Japan team reports pathway to green ammonia: photocatalytic conversion of nitrogen with water

Researchers in Japan report that a commercially available TiO2 with a large number of surface oxygen vacancies, when photo-irradiated by UV light in pure water with nitrogen—successfully produces ammonia (NH3). The solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiency is 0.02%, which is the highest efficiency among the early reported photocatalytic systems. This is,... Read more →


A new robust and highly active bifunctional catalyst developed by Rice University and the University of Houston splits water into hydrogen and oxygen without the need for expensive metals such as platinum. The work, the team suggests, provides a facile strategy for fabricating highly efficient electrocatalysts from earth-abundant materials for... Read more →


QUB team converts aluminum foil waste to highly active alumina; biofuel catalyst, other applications

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have developed a novel green route to convert aluminium foil waste into highly active nano-mesoporous alumina (γ-Al2O3) (designated as ACFL550). The material shows higher surface area, larger pore volume, and stronger acidity compared to γ-Al2O3 that is produced from the commercial AlCl3 precursor, AC550. An... Read more →


German team clarifies key catalytic step in enzymatic production of hydrogen

Enzymes, called [FeFe]-hydrogenases, efficiently turn electrons and protons into hydrogen; they are thus a candidate for the biotechnological production of the potential energy source. For years, researchers had assumed that a highly unstable intermediate state had to exist in the reaction. No one was able to verify this. Until now.... Read more →


New catalyst supports ultra-low-temperature water-gas-shift reaction for hydrogen production

Researchers from China and the US have synthesized gold layered clusters on an α-MoC substrate to create an interfacial catalyst system for the ultra-low-temperature water-gas shift (WGS) reaction for the production of high-purity hydrogen and concomitant utilization of carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery, described in a paper in the journal... Read more →


U Minn seeking to license new process to produce isoprene from biomass at high yield; green tires

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have developed a new high-yield process—a hybrid of fermentation followed by thermochemical catalysis—to produce renewable isoprene from biomass. In the process, fermentation of sugars produces itaconic acid, which undergoes catalytic hydrogenation to produce 3-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF). The... Read more →


Scientists at Rice University and their colleagues in China have fabricated a durable catalyst for high-performance fuel cells by attaching single ruthenium atoms to nitrogen-doped graphene. Catalysts that drive the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells are usually made of platinum. Platinum is expensive, however, and scientists have searched for... Read more →


Osaka team develops new solar-to-hydrogen catalyst that uses broader spectrum of light

A team at Osaka University in Japan has developed a new material based on gold and black phosphorus to harvest a broader spectrum of sunlight for water-splitting to produce hydrogen. The three-part composite maximizes both absorbing light and its efficiency for water splitting. The core is a traditional semiconductor—lanthanum titanium... Read more →


Kyushu team develops multifunctional catalyst for poison-resistant hydrogen fuel cells; both H2 and CO as fuel

Researchers at Kyushu University, Japan, have developed the first catalyst that can oxidize both hydrogen and carbon monoxide, depending on the pH of the reaction system. Carbon monoxide is a common pollutant in commercially available hydrogen gas but it poisons the platinum catalysts used in today’s fuel cells. A paper... Read more →


New efficient, low-temperature catalyst for converting water and CO to hydrogen and CO2

Scientists in the US and China have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO) via the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction. The discovery—described in a paper in the journal Science—could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel... Read more →


DOE awarding $2M to CMU-led project to develop PGM-free cathodes for fuel cells

The US Department of Energy is awarding roughly $15.8 million for 30 projects working toward the discovery and development of innovative, low-cost materials needed for hydrogen production and storage and for automotive fuel cells (earlier post). Of those 30 projects, Carnegie Mellon University Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Shawn Litster has... Read more →


Stanford team develops copper catalyst for increased selectivity of production of ethanol via electroreduction of CO2

Researchers at Standford University have designed large-format, thin-film copper catalysts for the electroreduction of CO2 to ethanol. The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “One of our long-range goals is to produce renewable ethanol in a way that doesn’t impact the global food supply. Copper... Read more →


Researchers at KAUST have developed a novel molybdenum-coated catalyst that can efficiently split water in acidic electrolytes and that could help with the efficient production of hydrogen. Scientists are searching for ways of improving the water-splitting reaction by developing an optimal catalyst. While many different materials have been tried, they... Read more →


EPFL team develops low-cost catalyst for splitting CO2

EPFL scientists have developed an Earth-abundant and low-cost catalytic system for splitting CO2 into CO and oxygen—an important step towards achieving the conversion of renewable energy into hydrocarbon fuels. A solar-driven system set up using this catalyst was able to split CO2 with an efficiency of 13.4%. A paper on... Read more →


UNSW Sydney chemists have fabricated a new, inexpensive catalyst for water splitting based on an ultrathin nanosheet array of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) on different substrates. Their nickel-iron-based metal-organic framework array (NiFe-MOF) demonstrates superior electrocatalytic performance towards the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) with a small overpotential of 240 mV at 10 mA cm−2 and... Read more →


Scientists have been trying to artificially replicate photosynthesis to convert solar energy to stored chemical energy, with the objective of producing environmentally friendly and sustainable fuels, such as hydrogen and methanol. However, mimicking key functions of the photosynthetic center, where specialized biomolecules carry out photosynthesis, has proven challenging. Artificial photosynthesis... Read more →


The high-performance, three-way catalytic (TWC) converter is one of the workhorses of emissions reduction for gasoline engines. The TWC reduces NOx to nitrogen and oxygen; oxidizes CO to CO2, and oxidizes unburnt hydrocarbons to carbon CO2 and water. However, TWCs require the use of the rare-earth element Cerium (Ce), which... Read more →


Penn State, FSU team develops low-cost, efficient layered heterostructure catalyst for water-splitting

A team of scientists from Penn State and Florida State University have developed a lower cost and industrially scalable catalyst consisting of synthesized stacked graphene and WxMo1–xS2 alloy phases that produces pure hydrogen through a low-energy water-splitting process. The results of their study, published in the journal ACS Nano, indicate... Read more →


Argonne researchers make vanadium into a useful low-cost catalyst for hydrogenation

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed an unusually active form of vanadium for hydrogenation reactions. Vanadium is an inexpensive common metal that could replace some of the precious metals currently found in catalysts used in these reactions, frequently used in processing of fuels (petro-... Read more →


Bochum chemists develop method to produce self-healing catalyst films for hydrogen production

Chemically aggressive conditions prevail during the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen, wearing out the catalysts used. Further, engineering stable electrodes using highly active catalyst nanopowders for electrochemical water splitting remains a notorious challenge. Now, chemists at the Centre for Electrochemical Sciences at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have devised an... Read more →


Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Technical University of Denmark have shown that thin alloy films of single-target co-sputtered platinum-yttrium exhibit up to 7x higher specific activity (13.4 ± 0.4 mA cm−2) for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells than polycrystalline platinum, and up to one order... Read more →


A group of Japanese researchers has developed a novel photocatalyst for increased hydrogen production. The strontium titanate mesocrystal exhibits three times the efficiency for hydrogen evolution compared to conventional disordered systems in alkaline aqueous solution. The mesocrystal also exhibits a high quantum yield of 6.7% at 360 nm in overall... Read more →


UH team develops new, highly efficient and durable OER catalyst for water splitting

Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a catalyst—composed of easily available, low-cost materials and operating far more efficiently than previous catalyst—that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The robust oxygen-evolving electrocatalyst consists of ferrous metaphosphate on self-supported conductive nickel foam that is commercially available in large scale.... Read more →


Chemists from the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have definitively identified the active sites of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2. The results, published in the journal Science, resolve a longstanding debate about exactly which catalytic components take part in the chemical... Read more →


Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Ames Laboratory have discovered a method for making smaller, more efficient intermetallic nanoparticles for fuel cell applications, and which also use less of the expensive precious metal platinum. A paper on the work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical... Read more →


Water-splitting systems require a very efficient catalyst to speed up the chemical reaction that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, while preventing the two gases from recombining back into water. Now an international research team has developed a new catalyst with a molybdenum (Mo) coating that prevents this problematic back... Read more →