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May 23rd, 2007
The efficiency of a fuel-generating chemical reaction can be boosted dramatically by mixing chemicals and catalysts inside nanoscopic test tubes, Chinese researchers have shown.
A team from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China found that a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (known as syngas) makes ethanol more quickly, with the help of tiny particles of a metal catalyst, when poured into carbon nanotubes.
The catalytic reaction was found to be more than 10 times faster when performed inside nanotubes, despite the lack of space for fresh reactants to circulate. The team showed multi-wall carbon nanotubes - 4 and 8 nanometres wide on the inside and 400 nm in length - to boost the metal catalyst's efficiency.
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