Green Car Congress
Go to GCC Discussions forum About GCC Contact  RSS Subscribe Twitter headlines

Catalysts

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

New operando technique shows atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real-time; applications for batteries and fuel cells

June 30, 2015

A new technique developed by a team of researchers led by Eric Stach at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Anatoly Frenkel at Yeshiva University reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real time and under real operating conditions. An open access paper on the work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

The team used a new microfabricated catalytic reactor to combine synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy for an unprecedented portrait of a common chemical reaction. The results demonstrate a powerful operando—i.e., in a working state—technique that is generalizable to quantitative operando studies of complex systems using a wide variety of X-ray and electron-based experimental probes. This may have a tremendous impact on research on catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and other major energy technologies.

More... | Comments (0)

Stanford team develops new low-voltage single-catalyst water splitter for hydrogen production

June 23, 2015

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen. An open access paper describing the synthesis and functionality of the bi-functional non-noble metal oxide nanoparticle electrocatalysts appears in the journal Nature Communications.

In the reported study, the new catalyst achieved 10 mA cm−2 water-splitting current at only 1.51 V for more than 200 h without degradation in a two-electrode configuration and 1 M KOH—better than the combination of iridium and platinum as benchmark catalysts.

More... | Comments (15)

EBI ketone condensation process for drop-in jet fuel or lubricant base oil from biomass; up to 80% lifecycle GHG savings

June 16, 2015

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership led by the University of California (UC) Berkeley that includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and BP, have developed a new method for producing drop-in aviation fuel as well as automotive lubricant base oils from sugarcane biomass. The strategy behind the process could also be applied to biomass from other non-food plants and agricultural waste that are fermented by genetically engineered microbes, the researchers said.

The catalytic process, described in an open-access paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), selectively upgrades alkyl methyl ketones derived from sugarcane biomass into trimer condensates with better than 95% yields. These condensates are then hydro-deoxygenated into a new class of cycloalkane compounds that contain a cyclohexane ring and a quaternary carbon atom. These cycloalkane compounds can be tailored for the production of either jet fuel, or automotive lubricant base oils, resulting in products with superior cold-flow properties, density and viscosity that could achieve net life-cycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 80%, depending upon the optimization conditions.

More... | Comments (0)

Northwestern-led team develops hydrogenation catalyst selective for carcinogen benzene; cleaner gasoline

June 09, 2015

A team from Northwestern University, with colleagues from UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company; Universita’ degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”; Argonne National Laboratory; and Ames Laboratory has developed a new hydrogenation catalyst that is highly selective for benzene, an aromatic—and known carcinogen—that is part of conventional gasoline.

The new catalyst could cost-effectively remove benzene from the other aromatic compounds in gasoline, making it cleaner but without eliminating other aromatics; aromatics in gasoline are used to improve gas octane numbers and fuel efficiency. An open access paper on their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

More... | Comments (0)

UT Austin team achieves best reported full-cell hybrid Li-air battery cycling with new ordered catalyst

June 05, 2015

Master.img-003
Cycling performance of the hybrid Li− air batteries with (top) ordered Pd3Fe/C air electrode and (bottom) conventional Pt/C air electrode. Credit: ACS, Cui et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin led by Professor John Goodenough has achieved significantly enhanced activity and durability for the oxygen reduction reaction under alkaline conditions in a hybrid Li-Air battery using a new ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst. The new catalyst exhibits much higher activity and durability than disordered Pd3Fe/C, Pd/C, and Pt/C.

As reported in a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the new ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst enables long-term cycling performance of hybrid Li−air batteries over 880 hours (220 cycles) with only a 0.08 V increase in round-trip overpotential. The extraordinarily high performance of ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst provides a very promising alternative to the conventional Pt/C catalyst for an air cathode in alkaline electrolyte, they concluded.

More... | Comments (8)

Delivery of renewable isooctane to Audi tips interesting potential non-biomass pathway for biogasoline; “e-benzin” as solar fuel

May 26, 2015

Last week, Audi and its partner Global Bioenergies announced that the first batch of renewable isooctane—which Audi calls “e-benzin”—using Global Bioenergies’ fermentative isobutene pathway (sugar→isobutene→isooctane) had been produced and presented to Audi by Global Bioenergies. (Earlier post.)

Global Bioenergies, founded in 2008, has developed a synthetic isobutene pathway that, when implanted in a micro-organism, enables the organism to convert sugars (e.g., from starch and biomass) via fermentation into gaseous isobutene via a several-stage enzymatic process. However, following the delivery of the first renewable isooctane, Reiner Mangold, Audi’s head of sustainable product development, said that Audi was “now looking forward to working together with Global Bioenergies on a technology allowing the production of renewable isooctane not derived from biomass sources”—i.e., using just water, H2, CO2 and sunlight.

More... | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Ballard to move to next phase of PEM fuel cell catalyst development project with Nisshinbo

Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. for the next phase of Technology Solutions project work related to the development of a breakthrough catalyst technology intended to reduce manufacturing cost of certain proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The project has now been underway for approximately 2 years.

Nisshinbo is an energy company providing low-carbon, optimized products across a range of business lines, including chemicals, precision instruments, electronics, automotive brakes, textiles and paper. Nisshinbo has supplied Ballard with compression molded bipolar flow field plates for more than 10-years, for use in the manufacture of PEM fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) used in various market applications.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Platinum-chromium alloy outperforms platinum as fuel cell catalyst

May 25, 2015

A team from Germany reports that a 40 wt% Pt3Cr/C alloy fuel cell catalyst shows enhanced activity under both half-cell and full-cell conditions as well as excellent corrosion stability compared to those of the 40 wt% Pt/C benchmark catalyst.

As presented at the Meeting of the Electrochemical Society earlier this month, in half-cell experiments at 2 mA cm−², the Pt3Cr/C catalyst exhibited 10 mV less over-potential and two-fold higher specific and mass activity for the ORR (oxygen reduction reaction) than Pt/C. The average particle size grew from 4.5 nm up to “only” 6–8 nm after 7000 degradation cycles. By comparison, the average particle size of Pt/C increased from 4.5 up to 10–30 nm.

More... | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers use X-ray nanotomography to identify key mechanisms of FCC catalyst aging; could lead to more efficient gasoline production

May 19, 2015

Scientists at Utrecht University and the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used X-ray nanotomography to identify key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient production of gasoline. (Tomography reconstructs a sliceable, virtual 3D copy of an object under study from 2D images.)

Their recent experiments studied fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles that are used to break heavy long-chain hydrocarbon fractions in crude oil into lighter, more valuable hydrocarbons such as gasoline and propylene. During FCC, the heavy hydrocarbons are vaporized and cracked into short-chain fractions by billions of tiny, fairly spherical catalyst particles with diameters ranging from 50–150 µm. FCC particles account for 40-45% of worldwide gasoline production.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Toyota reports new real-time observation method sets stage for more efficient, durable fuel cell stacks

May 18, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) have developed a new observation technique that allows researchers to monitor the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells, so that the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity can be observed in real-time.

The aim of the new technique is to identify the behavior, conditions and materials that make platinum catalyst nanoparticles critical to fuel cell efficiency and longevity prone to “coarsening”, with the accompanying degradation of capability. The new real-time observation technique could lead to a new generation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks, Toyota suggested. Toyota researchers will present the technique and their findings at the upcoming 2015 JSAE Annual Congress (Spring).

More... | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Review of research suggests inconclusive support for fuel consumption benefits of catalyzed EGR

Conflicting evidence does not support making a firm conclusion on the fuel consumption benefit of catalysed Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), according to a review of current studies by a team at the University of Bath (UK). In catalyzed EGR, a catalyst alters the chemical composition of the exhaust gas mix before its reintroduction to the engine. As an example, one study found a decrease in fuel consumption of up to 2%, while another found an increase of 1.5%-3.5%.

According to the review, the conversion of HCs, CO, and NO in the exhaust gas by the catalyst can result in up to a 4.5% reduction (in extreme cases) in the calorific value of the charge for catalyzed EGR when compared to equivalent operation with un-catalyzed EGR; this reduction in calorific value has a negative impact on the achievable BSFC. An open access paper on the study (an update of an earlier version published late last year) appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US-China team develops new class of catalyst superior to platinum for H2O splitting and H2 generation

May 11, 2015

Master.img-002
Potential sweeps caused substantial activity degradation for the Pt catalyst, but nearly no activity change for the NiAu/Au catalyst. Credit: ACS, Lv et al.. Click to enlarge.

A team from Brown University, Wuhan University of Technology (China), Cal State University Northridge and Harbin Institute of Technology (China) has developed a new catalyst for a highly efficient hydrogen evolution reaction based on core/shell NiAu/Au nanoparticles (NPs).

In their paper, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers go on to suggest that their approach is not limited to NiAu but can be extended to FeAu and CoAu as well, providing a general approach to MAu/Au NPs as a class of new catalyst with platinum-like activity and much superior durability for water splitting and hydrogen generation.

More... | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)

Lund researchers develop optimized two-phase enzymatic process for production of biodiesel

April 06, 2015

Researchers at Lund University (Sweden) have developed an optimized two-phase enzymatic (lipase) system for the conversion of plant oils to biodiesel. Applied to the solvent-free ethanolysis of rapeseed oil, the system delivered a yield of 96% under mild conditions. Under the mild conditions used, chemical catalysts were inefficient. An open access paper on their work is published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels.

The current predominant method for the transesterification of triglycerides (plant and animal oils and fats) to biodiesel (a mixture of esters) uses chemical catalysts (sodium or potassium hydroxides or alkoxides). Despite its predominance, there are several drawbacks with this approach, including the need to remove inorganic salt in the downstream process; the high temperature required; and undesirable side reactions. Further, these systems are inefficient when a high free fatty acid (FFA) content is present in the starting material, thus restricting the use of conventional chemical pathways to a highly pure feedstock. An alternative approach is the use of immobilized lipase-catalyzed transesterification in the presence of an organic solvent.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Rutgers non-noble metal catalyst for hydrogen evolution performs as well as Pt in both acid and base

March 22, 2015

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a new noble metal-free catalyst—Ni5P4 (nickel-5 phosphide-4)—performing on par with platinum for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in both strong acid and base. The development, the team concludes in a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, can offer a key step towards industrially relevant electrolyzers competing with conventional H2 sources.

Currently, renewable hydrogen may be produced from water by electrolysis with either low efficiency alkaline electrolyzers that suffer 50–65% losses, or by more efficient acidic electrolyzers using expensive rare platinum group metal catalysts (Pt). Consequently, the authors noted, research has focused on developing alternative, cheap, and robust catalysts made from earth-abundant elements.

More... | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

New bimetallic copper-titanium hydrogen evolution catalyst outperforms platinum by more than 2x

March 17, 2015

Ncomms7567-f1
Modeling study showing possible bimetallic sites on a Ti-modified Cu surface. The two Cu-Cu-Ti hollow sites exhibit HBE values close to that of Pt. The Cu-Ti-Ti hollow site binds hydrogen too strongly. Lu et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from the University of Delaware and Columbia University, with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, reports that a new hierarchical nanoporous copper-titanium bimetallic electrocatalyst is able to produce hydrogen from water under a mild overpotential at more than twice the rate of state-of-the-art carbon-supported platinum catalyst. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Although copper and titanium are poor hydrogen evolution catalysts by themselves, the combination of the two creates unique copper-copper-titanium hollow sites which have a hydrogen-binding energy (HBE) very similar to that of platinum, resulting in an exceptional hydrogen evolution activity, the team found. In addition, the hierarchical porosity of the nanoporous​copper-titanium catalyst provides a large-surface area for electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution, and improves the mass transport properties. Further, the catalyst is self-supported, eliminating the overpotential associated with the catalyst/support interface.

More... | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Highly efficient nickel-iron/nickel foam electrode for OER in water-splitting

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (Australia) have developed a highly efficient electrode for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in water-splitting that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of hydrogen. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Create by the electrodeposition of amorphous mesoporous nickel–iron composite nanosheets directly onto macroporous nickel foam substrates, the OER electrode exhibits high catalytic activity towards water oxidation in alkaline solutions, which only requires an overpotential of 200 mV to initiate the reaction, and is capable of delivering current densities of 500 and 1,000 mA cm−2 at overpotentials of 240 and 270 mV, respectively. The electrode also shows prolonged stability against bulk​water electrolysis at large current.

More... | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders

March 03, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

More... | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Rice graphene aerogel catalyst doped with boron and nitrogen outperform platinum in fuel cell ORR

March 02, 2015

Graphene nanoribbons formed into a three-dimensional aerogel and doped with boron and nitrogen (3D BNC NRs) exhibit the highest onset and half-wave potentials among the reported metal-free catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline fuel cells, and show superior performance compared to commercial Pt/C catalyst, according to a new study by Rice University researchers.

A team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tour made metal-free aerogels from graphene nanoribbons and various levels of boron and nitrogen to test their electrochemical properties. In research reported in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials, they reported that versions with about 10 atom % boron and nitrogen were most efficient in catalyzing the ORR.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers demonstrate high performance and stability of non-precious metal ORR catalysts in acidic PEM fuel cells

March 01, 2015

Researchers at Case Western University led by Prof. Liming Dai have demonstrated that rationally designed, metal-free, nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes and their graphene composites exhibit significantly better long-term operational stabilities and comparable gravimetric power densities with respect to the best non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) in acidic polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

The researchers said that this work, which advances their earlier work on high- performance NPMCs for fuel cells (e.g., earlier post, earlier post), represents a major breakthrough in removing the bottlenecks to translate low-cost, metal-free, carbon-based ORR (oxygen reduction reaction) catalysts to commercial reality in affordable and durable fuel cells. An open-access paper on their work appears in the online journal Science Advances (an offspring of the journal Science).

More... | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Northwestern team develops light-driven catalyst that can convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia under ambient conditions

February 23, 2015

Northwestern University scientists have developed a catalyst that can convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia under natural conditions. In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report that chalcogels containing FeMoS inorganic clusters are capable of photochemically reducing N2 to NH3 under white light irradiation, in aqueous media, under ambient pressure and room temperature.

Although the catalyst, which mimics the biological enzyme nitrogenase, is approximately 1,000 times slower, it is very robust and offers, said inorganic chemist Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, who led the research, “a fantastic starting point. Now we are trying to figure out how this material works and how it can become faster. We’ve already made some progress in this direction.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Toyota Central R&D exploring controlling catalysts at the quantum level for optimized performance and reduced costs

February 17, 2015

The Frontier Research Center (FRC) at Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan is investigating the development of catalysts controlled at the quantum level. This level of control should result in an an extreme reduction of precious metal usage in automotive exhaust catalysts and/or fuel cells, said Dr. Yoshihide Watanabe, program manager of the Quantum Controlled Catalysis Program at the FRC.

Metal cluster chemistry (a cluster is a group of atoms or molecules formed by interactions varying in strength from very weak to strong) has been developing rapidly since the mid-20th century. Some naturally occurring clusters are known to be involved in catalytic reactions, and there is great interest in the potential use of synthetic clusters in industrial applications such as catalysis.

More... | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

New black silicon-supported catalyst for photoreduction of CO2 to methane

February 16, 2015

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a catalyst comprising of black silicon nanowire supported ruthenium ( Ru/SiNW) for the photochemical and thermochemical reduction of gaseous CO2 to methane (methanation) in the presence of hydrogen under solar-simulated light. An open access paper on their work is published in the new journal Advanced Science.

The Ru/SiNW catalysts activated the Sabatier reaction at a rate of 0.74 mmol g−1 h−1 under 14.5 suns intensity of solar-simulated irradiation in a hydrogen atmosphere at 15 psi and a H2:CO2 ratio of 4:1. The team suggested that much higher reaction rates could be achieved by optimizing the dispersion of the Ru over the SiNW support.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

SLAC X-ray laser provides first glimpse of a chemical bond being born; implications for more efficient chemistry

February 13, 2015

Scientists have used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, reported in Science and long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place and on efforts to design reactions that generate energy, create new products and fertilize crops more efficiently.

The experiments took place at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Its brilliant, strobe-like X-ray laser pulses are short enough to illuminate atoms and molecules and fast enough to watch chemical reactions unfold in a way never possible before. The researchers used LCLS to study the CO oxidation reaction—the same reaction that neutralizes carbon monoxide (CO) from car exhaust in a catalytic converter.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rice, Minnesota scientists use predictive modeling to identify optimized zeolites to aid ethanol, petroleum production

January 23, 2015

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Minnesota have identified, through a large-scale, multi-step computational screening process, promising zeolite structures for two energy-related applications: the purification of ​ethanol from fermentation broths and the hydroisomerization of alkanes with 18–30 carbon atoms encountered in petroleum refining.

The results, presented in a paper published in Nature Communications, demonstrate that predictive modeling of synthetic zeolites—a technique pioneered by Rice bioengineer Michael Deem—and data-driven science can be applied to solve some of the most challenging problems facing industries that require efficient ways to separate or catalyze materials.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers devise method to produce jet-range hydrocarbons as co-product of production of algal biodiesel; role of alkenones

January 22, 2015

Master.img-001
Isochrysis extraction and fractionation scheme with yields given in parentheses for the different products obtained from each step. Credit: ACS, O’Neil et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Western Washington University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed a method to produce jet-fuel range hydrocarbons as a co-product of the production of algal biodiesel from the biomass of the industrially grown marine microalgae Isochrysis. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Certain species of algae—including Isochrysis—synthesize a unique class of lipids: long-chain (35-40 carbons) alkenones. The structure of alkenones is characterized by a very long liner carbon chain with trans double bonds and a methyl or ethyl ketone. The researchers developed a method for the isolation of pure alkenones from Isochrysis biomass in parallel with biodiesel production.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

HZB researchers characterize efficient manganese catalyst for artificial photosynthesis

Scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy (HZB) in collaboration with the School of Chemistry and ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at Monash University, Australia, have precisely characterized the electronic states of a manganese (Mn) water-splitting catalyst for artificial photosynthesis.

The team led by Professor Emad Aziz, head of the HZB Institute “Methods for Material Development“ and Professor Leone Spiccia from Monash University investigated the changes in the local electronic structure of the Mn  3d orbitals of a Mn catalyst derived from a dinuclear MnIII complex during the water oxidation cycle using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS) analyses.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NCSU team develops catalyst for thermal hybrid water-splitting and syngas generation with exceptional conversion; H2 gas and liquid fuels

January 19, 2015

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a highly effective new perovskite-promoted iron oxide redox catalyst for a hybrid solar-redox scheme they had proposed earlier for partial oxidation and water-splitting of methane.

In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, Feng He and Fanxing Li report that the new material—lanthanum strontium ferrite (La0.8Sr0.2FeO3-δ or LSF) supported Fe3O4—is capable of converting more than 67% steam with high redox stability. In contrast, previously reported ferrite materials typically exhibit 20% or lower steam to hydrogen conversion.

More... | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

BASF launches next-generation PremAir NXT catalytic coating technology for direct ozone reduction

January 14, 2015

BASF announced the commercial launch of PremAir NXT, a next-generation direct ozone reduction (DOR) catalytic coating technology for heat exchange surfaces such as radiators that can help automakers meet new US Tier 3 and California LEV III emissions reduction requirements.

When applied to such surfaces, the PremAir NXT solution converts harmful ground-level ozone—the main component of smog—into oxygen—i.e., it converts ground-level ozone already in the air. PremAir NXT builds on the success of BASF’s standard PremAir coating technology, providing increased durability and higher ozone conversion performance over the lifetime of a vehicle.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New anode for direct ethanol fuel cells enables peak power and current densities approaching H2 PEM fuel cells

December 12, 2014

A team of researchers in Italy has developed a new palladium-doped anode for direct alcohol fuel cells that produces peak power and current densities (using ethanol at 80 °C) approaching the output of hydrogen-fed proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal ChemSusChem.

Direct alcohol fuel cells (DAFCs), which belong to the family of alkaline fuel cells, are electrochemical devices that continuously convert the chemical energy of an alcohol fuel to electricity. Ethanol is becoming a desirable target fuel for use in DAFCs (i.e., a DEFC) because it offers higher energy density compared to methanol; less crossover rate (from the anode to cathode); and can be produced from agriculture and biomass products. In a 2006 paper (Mann et al.), researchers at Princeton observed that:

More... | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Vertimass selected for negotiation for up to $2M from DOE for conversion of ethanol into gasoline, diesel and jet blendstocks; expanding the ethanol market (updated)

December 05, 2014

US20140100404A1-20140410-D00003
Ethanol conversion to hydrocarbons as a function of temp. at a LHSV of 2.93 h−1. Source: US 20140100404 A1. Click to enlarge.

Vertimass LLC has been selected for negotiation of an award to receive up to $2 million from the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (earlier post) to support the commercialization of catalyst technology that converts ethanol into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel blend stocks, while retaining compatibility with the current transportation fuel infrastructure. (Earlier post.)

The technology—developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Chaitanya Narula, Brian Davison and Associate Laboratory Director Martin Keller and licensed exclusively by Vertimass—is expected to allow expansion of the ethanol market beyond current constraints. Existing US ethanol production plants currently have a capacity of approximately 14 billion gallons per year, a level that saturates current use as 10% blends with gasoline. However, the new Vertimass catalyst breaks that barrier by producing a hydrocarbon blend stock compatible in higher-level blends.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New efficient catalytic system for the photocatalytic reduction of CO2 to hydrocarbons

December 04, 2014

Tunims
Photocatalytic reduction products formed on various catalysts. The Au3Cu@STO/TiO2 array (red arrow) was the most reactive photocatalyst in this family to generate hydrocarbons from diluted CO2. Kang et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and TU-NIMS Joint Research Center, Tianjin University, China have developed a new, particularly efficient photocatalytic system for the conversion of CO2 into CO and hydrocarbons. The system, reported in a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie, may be a step closer to CO2-neutral hydrocarbon fuels.

More than 130 kinds of photocatalysts have been investigated to catalyze CO2 reduction; of those, strontium titanate (SrTiO3, STO) and titania (TiO2) are two of the most investigated materials. The research team headed by Dr. Jinhua Ye decided to use both, and devised a heteromaterial consisting of arrays of coaxially aligned STO/TiO2 nanotubes.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Novozymes launches commercial enzyme technology to convert waste oils into biodiesel

December 02, 2014

Novozymes has launched Eversa Transform, the first commercially available enzymatic solution (a liquid lipase) to convert both glycerides and free fatty acids (FFA) into biodiesel. Biodiesel producers can thereby use cooking oil or other lower grade oils as biodiesel feedstock, reducing their raw material costs. The resulting enzymatic biodiesel is sold to the same trade specification as biodiesel created through traditional chemical processing.

Growing demand for vegetable oil in the food industry has resulted in increased prices, causing biodiesel producers to search for alternative—and more sustainable—feedstocks. Most of the oils currently used in biodiesel production are sourced from soybeans, palm or rapeseed, and typically contain less than 0.5% free fatty acids (FFA). Existing biodiesel process designs have difficulty handling oils containing more than 0.5% FFA—i.e., waste oils with high FFAs have not been a viable feedstock option.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Novel single-site gold WGS catalysts may offer pathway to lower-cost production of hydrogen, fuels and chemicals

A team of researchers from universities and national laboratories led by Tufts University has developed catalysts composed of a unique structure of single gold atoms bound by oxygen to several sodium or potassium atoms and supported on non-reactive silica materials. This single-site gold species is active for the low-temperature (< 200 °C) water-gas shift (WGS) reaction that produces hydrogen.

They thus have found that gold is similar to platinum in creating –O and –OH linkages with more than eight alkali ions and establishing an active site on various supports. This finding paves the way for using earth-abundant supports to disperse and to stabilize precious metal atoms with alkali additives for the WGS and potentially other fuel processing reactions. The result could be lower costs. A paper describing their work is now published in Science Express.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

UCLA researchers develop synthetic biocatalytic pathway for more efficient conversion of methanol to longer-chain fuels

November 18, 2014

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science led by Dr. James Liao have developed a more efficient way to turn methanol into useful chemicals, such as liquid fuels, and that would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The UCLA team constructed a synthetic biocatalytic pathway that efficiently converts methanol under room temperature and ambient atmospheric pressures to higher-chain alcohols or other higher carbon compounds without carbon loss or ATP expenditure.

Building off their previous work in creating a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels (earlier post), the researchers modified the non-oxidative glycolysis pathway to utilize methanol instead of sugar. An open-access paper on the research was published in the 11 Nov. edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Purdue team demonstrates proof-of-concept of H2Bioil process; liquid fuel range hydrocarbons from biomass

November 17, 2014

H2bioil
H2Bioil concept. Venkatakrishnan et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Purdue University report a proof-of-concept of a their novel consecutive two-step process (H2Bioil) for the production of liquid fuel range hydrocarbons (C4+) with undetectable oxygen content from cellulose and an intact biomass (poplar). (Earlier post.)

Purdue University filed a patent application on the H2Bioil concept, which is based on fast-hydropyrolysis and downstream vapor-phase catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO), in 2008. The process adds hydrogen into the biomass-processing reactor and is made possible by development of a new catalyst and the innovative reactor design. Findings are described in a research paper published online in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.

More... | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

DOE 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Progress Report highlights substantial progress

November 13, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has posted the 2014 edition of its annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report—a nearly 1,000-page document. The report summarizes the reports provided each year by projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and offers additional information about recent Program accomplishments.

The Program engages in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of critical improvements in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as other activities to overcome obstacles to commercialization. The Program integrates basic and applied research, technology development and demonstration, and other supporting activities. Over the past year, said Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, FCTO, “the Program made substantial progress toward its goals and objectives.”

More... | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Teijin developing non-platinum metal carbon alloy catalyst suited to mass production for fuel cells

November 11, 2014

Teijin Limited is developing a non-platinum carbon alloy catalyst (CAC) for the cathode oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in polymer electrolyte fuel cells. CAC is made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and steel via carbonization. Less expensive and more readily available than platinum, PAN enables the catalyst to be produced at reduced cost and in higher volumes.

Teijin has been developing and refining its CAC technologies in collaboration with researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The effort is part of a project targeting the development of automotive fuel cells using CAC, led by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). (NEDO launched work on CAC as part of a larger fuel cell effort in FY 2008.) Teijin says it will continue to advance the properties and durability of its CAC, targeting commercial use by 2025.

More... | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers in China produce highest octane gasoline fuel reported from biomass

Researchers in China have generated gasoline fuel with a research octane number of 95.4 from biomass-derived γ-valerolactone (GVL)—the highest octane number reported for biomass-derived gasoline fuel—using an ionic liquid catalyst. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.

In the study, they converted biomass-derived γ-valerolactone into gasoline by the decarboxylation of valerolactone to produce butenes and the subsequent alkylation of the produced butenes with butane using [CF3CH2OH2][CF3CH2OBF3] as an efficient catalyst. The obtained gasoline was rich in trimethylpentane (isooctane), with the RON of 95.4.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers develop JP-8 enzymatic biofuel cell; electricity from alkanes under mild conditions

November 05, 2014

Master.img-002
Representative schematic of hardware employed for testing of a complete biofuel cell. Credit: ACS, Ulyanova et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from the University of Utah and CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) reports the first bioelectrocatalysis of alkanes to produce electricity. In an paper published in the journal ACS Catalysis, they describe the use of a two-enzyme cascade in an enzymatic biofuel cell to oxidize hexane, octane and then JP-8, a jet fuel (C6-C16) comprising a mixture of alkanes.

An enzymatic biofuel cell contains many of the same components as a hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell—i.e., anode, cathode, and separator. However, instead of metallic electrocatalysts at the anode and the cathode, the enzymatic biofuel cell uses enzymes as the catalysts. The enzyme cascade reported in this new work is efficient, sulfur-tolerant, and produces power densities up to 3 mW/cm2 in a JP-8 enzymatic biofuel cell at room temperature without preprocessing of the fuel—as opposed to traditional metal catalysts which require fuel pre-processing. This output is comparable to high power density sugar and alcohol biofuel cells, the researchers said.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CDTi introduces Spinel technology to replace PGMs and rare earths in catalytic converters

November 04, 2014

Spinel-diagram_a
CDTi says that its Spinel technology uses various base metals to create an effective exhaust catalyst. Click to enlarge.

Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. announced new proprietary technology—which it calls Spinel—to replace costly platinum group (PGM) and rare earth metals in catalytic converters. The new technology will power multiple catalytic product lines that CDTi believes will be highly disruptive to the traditional platinum-based or rare-earth based device industry. This is CDTi’s first public announcement regarding its Spinel technology, the development of which has been kept confidential until now.

Spinel is the name initially given to naturally-occurring magnesium aluminate (MgAl2O4) and is now used to describe any composition with the same structure. CDTi’s “Spinel” technology utilizes various base metals which when combined together in a common structure achieve unusual and very effective catalytic conversion activity. The technology is applicable in a wide range of engine and vehicle applications, both gasoline and diesel, as well as other potential vertical markets, CDTi says.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Novel bi-metallic palladium-tungsten nano-alloy an efficient low-cost fuel cell catalyst; simple microwave synthesis

October 16, 2014

Swedish and Chinese researchers have fashioned a novel nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles supported on ordered mesoporous carbon as an efficient fuel cell catalyst. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, they reported that despite a very low percentage of noble metal (​palladium:tungsten=1:8), the hybrid catalyst material exhibits a performance equal to commercial 60% platinum/Vulcan for the oxygen reduction reaction in a fuel cell.

The researchers attributed the high catalytic efficiency to the formation of small palladium islands embedded at the surface of the ​palladium–tungsten bimetallic nanoparticles, generating catalytic hotspots. The ​palladium islands are ~1 nm in diameter, and contain 10–20 palladium atoms that are segregated at the surface. The results, they said, may provide insight into the formation, stabilization and performance of bimetallic nanoparticles for catalytic reactions.

More... | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

New one-pot catalytic process efficiently converts biomass to liquid alkanes under mild conditions

October 13, 2014

Debeeck1
Conversion of microcrystalline cellulose to liquid alkanes with the biphasic system in function of time and temperature. Yield insoluble products (%) = cellulose conversion (%) - total yield dissolved products (%). de Beeck et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from KU Leuven, Belgium, together with colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany, have designed a novel one-pot biphasic catalytic system that is able directly to transform cellulose into straight-chain alkanes (mainly n-hexane) with high yields.

The carbon-based yields are high (up to 82%) and the process completes in less than 6 hours at a comparatively mild 220 ˚C. The resulting bio-derived light naphtha fraction is a green feedstock suited for existing processes that produce aromatics, gasoline or olefins. With low-cost cellulosic residue and the absence of required pretreatment for this process, the researchers said, this approach seems highly promising en route to more sustainable chemicals and fuels. A paper on the work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.

More... | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Rice BN-doped graphene quantum dots/graphene platelet hybrid material can outperform platinum as fuel cell catalyst

Master.img-001
Preparation procedure for the BN-GQD/G nanocomposite. Credit: ACS, Fei et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Rice University has created a hybrid material combining graphene quantum dots (GQDs) and graphene platelets that can—depending upon its formulation—outperform platinum as a catalyst for fuel cells.

The material showed an oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of about 15 millivolts more in positive onset potential—the start of the reaction—and 70% larger current density than platinum-based catalysts. The materials required to make the flake-like hybrids are much cheaper, too, said Dr. James Tour, whose lab created GQDs from coal last year. A paper on their new work is published in the journal ACS Nano.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers find isolated Pd atoms efficient low-temperature catalysts to convert CO in automotive exhaust

October 08, 2014

Researchers have found that isolated palladium atoms on γ-alumina supports along with a small amount of lanthanum oxide can efficiently turn the carbon monoxide in automotive exhaust into carbon dioxide at temperatures as low as 40 ˚Celsius, potentially reducing toxins emitted by vehicle exhaust—especially at start-up—and replacing or reducing the need for platinum in automotive catalytic converters.

The catalyst activity can be regenerated by oxidation at 700 °C in air. The high-temperature stability and regenerability of these ionic palladium species make this catalyst system of potential interest for low-temperature exhaust treatment catalysts, the researchers suggested in a recent paper in the journal Nature Communications.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Topsøe researchers analyze hydrotreating catalyst at single-atom level; potential for more efficient catalysts for cleaner fuels

September 30, 2014

Ncontent
Cover courtesy of S. Nygaard, Haldor Topsøe A/S. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Haldor Topsøe A/S have analyzed an industrial-style MoS2-based hydrotreating catalyst at the single-atom level using electron microscopy. With this method, the sites of single cobalt atoms, which are responsible for promoting sulfur removal from oil distillates, are resolved. The study is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Co-Mo-S is the active part in Haldor Topsøe’s series of TK catalysts; the cobalt serves as a promoter of the functional properties of the transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) MoS2. The researchers obtained images—achieved following decades of attempts—disclosing detailed knowledge about the structure of the catalyst. The research could mean more efficient catalysts for oil refineries in the near future, promoting a cleaner environment and helping industry to deal with increasingly tight and more stringent environmental legislation.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stanford team reports new low-cost, non-precious metal catalyst for water splitting with performance close to platinum

August 22, 2014

Gong
Structure of the NiO/Ni-CNT hybrid. Blue = nickel, green = nickel oxide. Credit: Gong et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Stanford University, with colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other institutions, have developed a nickel-based electrocatalyst for low-cost water-splitting for hydrogen production with performance close to that of much more expensive commercial platinum electrocatalysts.

As described in their paper in Nature Communications, the catalyst comprises nanoscale ​nickel oxide/nickel heterostructures formed on carbon nanotube sidewalls (NiO/Ni-CNT nano-hybrids). The researchers were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery, said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. This marked the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low, he added.

More... | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

PNNL study uncovers role of water in forming impurity in bio-oil upgrading; insight into fundamentals of biofuel catalysis

August 21, 2014

In working to elucidate the chemistry of hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) for the catalytic upgrading of pyrolytic bio-oil to fuel-grade products, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have discovered that water in the conversion process helps form an impurity which, in turn, slows down key chemical reactions. Results of the study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, can help improve processes that produce biofuels from plants.

The study examines the conversion of bio-oil, produced from biomass such as wood chips or grasses, into transportation fuels. Researchers used density functional theory (DFT)-based ab initio molecular dynamics calculations to provide a detailed atomic-level understanding of how the hydrogenation reactions are influenced by the presence of water and also by the nature of the hydrogenating metal. The results of the study apply not only to water but to related liquids in bio-oil such as alcohols and certain acids.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

OCM company Siluria pulls in $30M in D round led by Saudi Aramco; methane to fuels and chemicals

August 20, 2014

Siluria Technologies, a pioneer in the commercialization of an oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) technology to produce ethylene from natural gas (earlier post), announced the initial close of its Series D financing round. The round was led by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), the venture investment subsidiary of Saudi Aramco and included additional investments by all of the major existing investors in Siluria. The total raise for this initial close of the Series D financing was $30 million.

With this initial Series D financing, Siluria has raised just under $100 million since its inception. Siluria is currently in discussions with additional strategic and financial investors to complete a total Series D financing of approximately $50 million.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New palladium oxalate hydrodeoxygenation catalyst for production of drop-in paraffinic biofuels

August 17, 2014

Researchers in Malaysia and Oman have developed a novel palladium oxalate catalyst supported on zeolite A (PdOx/ Zeol) with increased acidity for the hydrodeoxygenation and isomerization of bio-feedstocks into paraffinic (drop-in) biofuels. In a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuel, they report the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of stearic acid (SA) (one of the most common saturated fatty acids found in nature following palmitic acid) into paraffinic biofuel.

Their best observed conditions for the process were 360 °C, 20 bar, 100 mL/min, and 25 mg to achieve 92% biofuel production from 35 g SA. The biofuel product distribution showed 71% n-C18H38, 18% iso-C18H38, and 3% C17H36.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Molecular shuttle speeds up hydrogen production by the photocatalytic splitting of water

August 15, 2014

In their latest experiments with semiconductor nanocrystals as light absorbers, physicists led by Professor Jochen Feldmann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, LMU Munich), in collaboration with a team of chemists under the direction of Professor Andrey Rogach (City University of Hong Kong), have succeeded in significantly increasing the yield of hydrogen produced by the photocatalytic splitting of water.

The crucial innovation, reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature Materials, is the use of a so-called molecular shuttle to markedly improve the mobility of charge carriers in their reaction system.

More... | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Copper foam catalyst yields different product slate from CO2 than smooth electrodes; importance of catalyst architecture

August 13, 2014

A catalyst made from a foamy form of copper has different electrochemical properties from catalysts made with smooth copper in reactions involving carbon dioxide, according to a new study by a team from Brown University. The research, reported in the journal ACS Catalysis, suggests that copper foams could provide a new way of converting excess CO2 into useful industrial chemicals.

The researchers showed that the electrochemical reduction of CO2 at copper foams yields formic acid at a lower onset potential with faradaic efficiencies that are 10−20% higher than other reported values. In comparison to smooth copper electrodes, the faradaic efficiencies of CO, methane, and ethylene are reduced significantly, whereas C2 and C3 products such as ethane and propylene are produced in small but detectable quantities—overall, a very different product outcome than obtained from planar electrodes.

More... | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

RIKEN researchers develop bio-inspired catalyst that splits water at neutral pH

August 09, 2014

Plants use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen. The process starts in a cluster of manganese, calcium and oxygen atoms at the heart of a protein complex called photosystem II, which splits water to form oxygen gas, protons and electrons.

Numerous researchers have attempted to develop synthetic catalysts that mimic this cluster, using light or electricity to convert water into fuels such as hydrogen gas. Unlike plants, however, these artificial catalysts can only split alkaline water, which makes the process less sustainable. Now, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan have developed a manganese oxide-based catalyst system that can split water efficiently at neutral pH. They report on their work in an open access paper in the journal Nature Communications.

More... | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

UC Riverside team develops new high efficiency method for conversion of biomass to biofuels

August 04, 2014

Unknown
Overview of the process. Cai et al. (2014) Click to enlarge.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Charles E. Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, has developed a versatile, relatively non-toxic, and efficient way to convert lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels and chemicals.

The method couples the use of a metal halide selective catalyst with a highly tunable co-solvent—renewable tetrahydrofuran (THF)—to enhance co-production of the fuel precursors furfural and 5-HMF from biomass in a single-phase reaction strategy capable of integrating biomass deconstruction with catalytic dehydration of sugars. Those fuel precursors can then be converted into ethanol, chemicals or drop-in fuels.

More... | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New catalytic system for conversion of CO2 to methanol shows much higher activity than others now in use

August 01, 2014

Figure1-microscope-image-hr
Scanning tunneling microscope image of a cerium-oxide and copper catalyst (CeOx-Cu) used in the transformation of CO2 and H2 to methanol (CH3OH) and water. In the presence of hydrogen, the Ce4+ and Cu1+ are reduced to Ce3+ and Cu0 with a change in the structure of the catalyst surface. Source: BNL. Click to enlarge.

Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, with colleagues from the University of Seville (Spain) and Universidad Central de Venezuela, have discovered a new, highly active catalytic system for converting carbon dioxide to methanol.

The pure metals and bimetallic systems used for the chemical activation of CO2 usually have low catalytic activity; the new system exhibits significantly higher activity than other catalysts now in use. The new catalyst system converts CO2 to methanol more than a thousand times faster than plain copper particles, and almost 90 times faster than a common copper/zinc-oxide catalyst currently in industrial use.

More... | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

New catalyst improves conversion of CO2 to syngas

July 30, 2014

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have identified molybdenum disulfide as a promising cost-effective substitute for noble metal catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

While noble metals such as gold and silver are able to reduce carbon dioxide at moderate rates and low overpotentials, their cost is a challenge to the development of inexpensive systems with an efficient CO2 reduction capability. Amin Salehi-Khojin, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and his colleagues developed a novel two-step catalytic process for CO2reduction that uses molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid. The new catalyst improves efficiency and lowers cost.

More... | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Green Car Congress © 2015 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group