INTERVIEW: Key to success is producing nanocatalysts in commercial volume, says QSI CEO

qsiNew Materials News recently reported that QuantumSphere (QSI), a manufacturer of nanocatalysts, had entered into a multi-year joint development agreement with Casale, a provider of products and services for the production of ammonia, urea, melamine, methanol, syngas, nitrates and phosphates. [Read more…]

New low-cost catalyst for fuel cells, brings cheap clean energy closer

graphene_103965583A new low-cost catalyst may replace expensive precious metal catalysts in acidic fuel cells. This may significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing acidic PEM fuel cells which generate clean energy. The new catalyst is also more durable and corrodes less than existing metallic alternatives.

The new non-metal catalyst is made from mixing sheets of nitrogen-doped graphene, carbon nanotubes and carbon black particles. The mixed sheets are then freeze-dried into composite sheets and hardened.

The three components of the catalyst fulfil different functions. The graphene provides a large surface area to speed up the chemical reaction, the nanotubes enhance conductivity, and the carbon black separates the graphene sheets for free flow of the electrolyte and oxygen, increasing performance and efficiency.

By way of background, fuel cells convert fuel into electricity through an oxygen reduction reaction. In particular, the fuel cells remove electrons from the fuel at the positive electrode, producing positive ions. These ions are then carried through the cell by an electrolyte to the negative electrode, producing a current and, hence, electricity. Catalysts speed up the underlying chemical reactions taking place in the cell.

Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve, said:

“This definitely should move the field forward. It’s a major breakthrough for commercialization.”

‘Molecular sieves’ purify ethanol and refine petrol

Researchers have identified new zeolites – or ‘molecular sieves’ – that can efficiently purify ethanol and refine petrol.

Zeolites are nanoscale particles with channels and pores that can sort, filter, trap and chemically process materials as well as catalyze chemical reactions. There are only about 50 natural zeolites.

The research group had previously identified more than 2.6 million synthetic zeolite structures that could possibly be synthesized, but have now developed a method to screen these possibilities, finding the right structures, pore sizes and chemical reactivity for different applications. [Read more…]