Molecular level control method can double the efficiency of widely used industrial catalysts

2/CH3OH/H2O. Credit: by Xuan Tang and Professor Sheng Dai, East China University of Science and Technology” width=”600″ height=”308″/>

Scanning transmission electron microscopy images of metallic copper (yellow) and zinc oxide (pink/orange) catalysts. In the left image, Cu and Zn metal oxides are mainly present as separate particles after activation with H2. The image on the right shows Zn oxide decorating Cu metal particles after “induced activation” with H2/CH3OHH2O. Credit: by Xuan Tang and Professor Sheng Dai, East China University of Science and Technology

The science of catalysis – the speeding up of a chemical reaction – may not be the most recognizable branch of study, but it is absolutely ingrained in the fabric of modern society.

The development and production of fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other goods depend on catalysis. Catalysis plays a vital role in generating energy and mitigating humanity’s impact on the environment, and is involved in the manufacture of approximately 25% of all industrial products in the United States. From a consumer perspective, if something is made, worn, inhabited, played with, driven, or otherwise used by people, catalysis likely plays a fundamental role in its origin story.

Research in the field of catalysis enables new and improved products and more efficient ways of making and manufacturing, well, just about anything. But with such a deep entanglement in the world around us, advances in industrial catalysis can be costly from a macro perspective – wholesale changes that require a “rip and replace” strategy are not suitable for business and to the supply chains that power and supply our modern economy.

In an article published online today (January 20, 2022) in Natural catalysis, researchers from Lehigh University, in collaboration with colleagues from the East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), propose a new method to significantly improve the catalytic efficiency of materials already widely used in the commerce, a process they called “induced activation”. “

The article “Induced activation of commercial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst for the steam reforming of methanol. The research team, supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, includes Israel E. Wachs, G. Whitney Snyder Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tiancheng Pu, a student at the Lehigh University, from the Lehigh Molecular Spectroscopy and Operand Catalysis Research Laboratory, and Minghui Zhu, who earned a Ph.D. from Lehigh in 2016, who is currently a professor of chemical engineering at ECUST. , Fang Xu, Xuan Tang, Sheng Dai, Xianglin Liu, Pengfei Tian, ​​Fuzhen Xuan, and Zhi Xu.

Induced Activation: A Game Changer in Catalytic Surface Control

“The surface structure of heterogeneous catalysts is closely associated with their catalytic performance,” says Wachs. “Current structural modification efforts focus primarily on improving catalyst synthesis. Induced activation, on the other hand, takes a different approach: manipulating the surface of the catalyst by controlling the composition of reducing agents in the d catalyst activation where the catalyst is transformed to its optimum state.

The team claims that using the “proven” industrial catalytic material copper/zinc oxide/aluminum oxide (Cu/ZnO/AlO3) allows companies to take advantage of this breakthrough without the need for costly retooling.

“This development effectively doubles the catalytic efficiency of these materials, improving their productivity and extending catalyst life,” Wachs said. “Most importantly, induced activation can bring significant benefits to industry without shutting down a chemical plant or building a costly new one.”


Catalyst surface analyzed at atomic resolution


More information:
Didi Li et al, Induced activation of commercial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst for steam reforming of methanol, Natural catalysis (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41929-021-00729-4

Provided by Lehigh University

Quote: Molecular-level control method can double efficiency of widely used industrial catalysts (2022, Jan 24) Retrieved Jan 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-method-molecular-level- efficiency-widely-industrial.html

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