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[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.]

Hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami nanocages exhibit leading hydrogen storage densities

March 17, 2014

Researchers from the University of Maryland have used molecular dynamics simulation to demonstrate graphene nano-cages which will open and close in response to an electric charge using a technique they call hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami (HAGO). The cages can stably store hydrogen molecules at a density of 9.7 wt % hydrogen—significantly above the US Department of Energy (DOE) target of 5.5 wt % by 2017 and 7.5 wt % by 2020.

The team has also demonstrated the potential to reach an even higher density and doing so is a future research goal. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Nano.

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PowerDriver simulations predict thermoelectric exhaust waste heat recovery output of 300W, -2.5% in fuel consumption; prototyping begins

August 22, 2013

The European Union-funded PowerDriver project—a two-year, €3-million (US$4-million) research project initiated in February 2012 to turn exhaust gas waste heat into electricity using thermoelectric generator (TGEN) technology—has completed simulation work on on a potential automotive application. Results suggest TGEN output of 300W and equivalent fuel saving over the NEDC drive cycle of 2.5%

The PowerDriver project is a collaborative research initiative involving Jaguar Land Rover Ltd and Rolls-Royce PLC together with supply chain and research and development partners and universities. Jaguar Land Rover Ltd is interested in technology capable of being applied to gasoline engine passenger cars while Rolls-Royce PLC is interested in marine applications related to diesel engines.

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ORNL finding on surface properties of complex oxides films could lead to better batteries and catalysts

August 14, 2013

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University, have discovered that key surface properties of complex oxide films are unaffected by reduced levels of oxygen during fabrication—an unanticipated finding with possible implications for the design of functional complex oxides.

The discovery, which may result in better batteries, catalysts, electronic information storage and processing devices, is reported in a paper published in the RSC journal Nanoscale.

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EPFL/Technion team develops “champion” nanostructures for efficient solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen

July 15, 2013

Hydrogen bubbles as they appear in a photoelectrochemical cell. © LPI / EPFL. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from EPFL in Switzerland and Technion-Israel Institue of Technology have developed nanoparticle-based α-Fe2O3 (hematite) electrodes that achieve the highest photocurrent of any metal oxide photoanode for photoelectrochemical water-splitting under 100 mW cm−2 air mass, 1.5 global sunlight. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Materials.

With current methods, in which a conventional photovoltaic cell is coupled to an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen, the cost to produce hydrogen from water using the sun is around €15 per kilo at its cheapest, said research leader Dr. Michael Grätzel, Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces (LPI) at EPFL and inventor of dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells. “We’re aiming at a €5 charge per kilo,” he said.

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Nickel phosphide nanoparticle shown to be efficient non-noble metal electrocatalyst for hydrogen production

June 17, 2013

In the electrochemical reduction of water to molecular hydrogen, the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is facilitated by noble metal catalysts such as platinum (Pt), which generate large cathodic current densities for this reaction at low overpotentials.

A research team led by Raymond Schaak, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, now reports that nanoparticles of nickel phosphide (Ni2P)—the two component elements of which are inexpensive and earth-abundant—have demonstrated among the highest HER activity of any non-noble metal electrocatalyst reported to date. A paper on the work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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New MOF could enable more efficient and cost-effective production of high octane gasoline

May 24, 2013

The new MOF contains triangular channels running through the material. The walls of these channels trap the lower-octane components while allowing the higher-octane molecules to pass through, potentially providing a more efficient and cost effective way to refine high-octane gasoline. Credit: Science/AAAS. Click to enlarge.

An international team of researchers has developed a new metal-organic framework (MOF) that might provide a significantly improved method for separating hexane isomers in gasoline according to their degree of branching. A paper on the work is published in the journal Science.

Created in the laboratory of Jeffrey Long, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, the MOF features triangular channels that selectively trap only the lower-octane hexane isomers based on their shape, separating them easily from the higher-octane molecules in a way that could prove far less expensive than the industry’s current method for producing high-octane fuel. The Long laboratory and UC Berkeley have applied for a patent on the MOF Fe2(bdp)3. (BDP2– = 1,4-benzenedipyrazolate)

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MIT team devises approaches for practical carbon-nanotube-coated carbon fiber; stronger, more electrically conductive

May 20, 2013

MIT scientists demonstrated two approaches for growing CNTs on carbon fiber without degrading the fiber strength. Credit: ACS, Steiner et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at MIT have demonstrated two approaches for producing carbon fibers coated in carbon nanotubes without degrading the underlying fiber’s strength. A paper on the work, which could result in carbon-fiber composites that are not only stronger but also more electrically conductive, is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Hierarchical carbon fibers (CFs) sheathed with radial arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are promising candidates for improving the intra- and interlaminar properties of advanced fiber-reinforced composites (such as graphite/epoxy) and for high-surface-area electrodes for battery and supercapacitor architectures, the authors note.

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