Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanocatalyst is a gas

Professor Michael Wong
Professor Michael Wong

Abstract:
A nanoparticle-based catalyst developed at Rice University may give that tiger in your tank a little more roar.

By Mike Williams

Nanocatalyst is a gas

Houston, TX | Posted on September 19th, 2010

A new paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society details a process by Rice Professor Michael Wong and his colleagues that should help oil refineries make the process of manufacturing gasoline more efficient and better for the environment.

In addition, Wong said, it could produce higher-octane gasoline and save money for an industry in which a penny here and a penny there add millions to the bottom line.

Wong's team at Rice, in collaboration with labs at Lehigh University, the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas and the DCG Partnership of Texas, reported this month that sub-nanometer clusters of tungsten oxide lying on top of zirconium oxide are a highly efficient catalyst that turns straight-line molecules of n-pentane, one of many hydrocarbons in gasoline, into better-burning branched n-pentane.

While the catalytic capabilities of tungsten oxide have long been known, it takes nanotechnology to maximize their potential, said Wong, a Rice professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry.

After the initial separation of crude oil into its basic components -- including gasoline, kerosene, heating oil, lubricants and other products -- refineries "crack" (by heating) heavier byproducts into molecules with fewer carbon atoms that can also be made into gasoline. Catalysis, a chemical process, further refines these hydrocarbons.

That's where Wong's discovery comes in. Refineries strive to make better catalysts, he said, although "compared with the academic world, industry hasn't done much in terms of new synthesis techniques, new microscopy, new biology, even new physics. But these are things we understand in the context of nanotechnology.

"We have a way to make a better catalyst that will improve the fuels they make right now. At the same time, a lot of existing chemical processes are wasteful in terms of solvents, precursors and energy. Improving a catalyst can also make the chemical process more environmentally friendly. Knock those things out, and they gain efficiencies and save money."

Wong and his team have worked for several years to find the proper mix of active tungsten oxide nanoparticles and inert zirconia. The key is to disperse nanoparticles on the zirconia support structure at the right surface coverage. "It's the Goldilocks theory - not too much, not too little, but just right," he said. "We want to maximize the amount of these nanoparticles on the support without letting them touch.

"If we hit that sweet spot, we can see an increase of about five times in the efficiency of the catalyst. But this was very difficult to do."

No wonder. The team had to find the right chemistry, at the right high temperature, to attach particles a billionth of a meter wide to grains of zirconium oxide powder. With the right mix, the particles react with straight n-pentane molecules, rearranging their five carbon and 12 hydrogen atoms in a process called isomerization.

Now that the catalyst formula is known, making the catalyst should be straightforward for industry. "Because we're not developing a whole new process - just a component of it - refineries should be able to plug this into their systems without much disruption," Wong said.

Maximizing gasoline is important as the world develops new sources of energy, he said. "There's a lot of talk about biofuels as a significant contributor in the future, but we need a bridge to get there. Our discovery could help by stretching current fuel-production capabilities."

Co-authors of the paper are Nikolaos Soultanidis, a Rice chemical engineering graduate student in Wong's lab; Israel Wachs, Wu Zhou and Christopher Kiely of Lehigh University; Antonis Psarras and Eleni Iliopoulou of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas; and Alejandro Gonzalez of the DCG Partnership, Pearland, Texas.

The National Science Foundation's Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team Program supported the project, with additional support from SABIC Americas and 3M.



####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Chemistry

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Possible Futures

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Academic/Education

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education October 13th, 2016

New Agricultural Research Center Debuts at UCF October 12th, 2016

Announcements

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Environment

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Semiconductor-free microelectronics are now possible, thanks to metamaterials November 9th, 2016

First time physicists observed and quantified tiny nanoparticle crossing lipid membrane November 7th, 2016

Nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats: Scientists interested in the prospects of gas sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites November 5th, 2016

Energy

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells December 1st, 2016

Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells: Researchers combine quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient, green solar cells November 30th, 2016

Automotive/Transportation

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

'Back to the Future' inspires solar nanotech-powered clothing November 15th, 2016

Nanocellulose in medicine and green manufacturing: American University professor develops method to improve performance of cellulose nanocrystals November 7th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project