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Institute for Integrated Catalysis

The Institute for Integrated Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory facilitates collaborative research and development in catalysts for a secure energy future.

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Cover of ACS Catalysis journal cover, October 2014

Cheap Catalyst Gets Expensive Accessory

Together, iron and palladium help remove troubling oxygen for biofuel reaction

(October 2014)

While iron catalysts are an inexpensive way to remove oxygen from plant-based materials, the catalyst is not very active and can be readily deactivated due to rusting by the water that comes part and parcel with biofuels production. Precious metal catalysts aren't readily oxidized, but they aren't efficient in removing oxygen from plant-based materials. In addition, the metal is prohibitively expensive. Adding just a touch of the precious metal palladium to earth-abundant iron produces a catalyst that quickly removes oxygen atoms, easily releases the desired products, and doesn't rust, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University.

Journal of Physical Chemistry B cover, copyright 2014 American Chemical Society

Liquid Water Fails To Keep Ions Apart

Study changes conventional wisdom about how acids behave in water

(October 2014)

When an acid is added to water, the ions involved do not separate quickly, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory. Instead, the counter ion and a hydrogen ion, which quickly associates with water to become hydronium ion, stick close to each other. Using laboratory experiments and computational simulations, the team obtained a molecule’s eye view of acid dissociation. This study provides new details about counter ions’ behavior and could help scientists design energy storage solutions and mitigate climate change.

Palladium catalysts and vehicle exhaust

Left Alone, Palladium Atoms Get the Job Done

Isolated atoms quickly tackle carbon monoxide, potentially reducing lean-burn engine emissions

(October 2014)

Whether driving a car with a lean burn engine or a conventional one, your catalytic converter struggles to reduce emissions in the first 30 seconds after you start the car. Your platinum based converter does not work well before the engine warms up. Scientists including two at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered that isolated palladium atoms could reduce emissions under these conditions. They showed that the palladium atoms efficiently turn carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide at 40 degrees Celsius. The multi-year study appears in Nature Communications.

Computational study shows reactions and energy
needed at each step to form the basic unit of a metal-organic framework

Mapping the March to Methodical Materials

Scientists determine the progression of fundamental steps needed to nucleate metal-organic frameworks, captivating materials with promise in gas storage, chemical separations, and air conditioning

(October 2014)

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory determined the individual steps and energy needed to form the basic unit of a popular metal-organic framework or MOF. Selective and reactive, MOFs could replace inefficient materials in devices where gas separation and storage are vital. The team took a computation- and simulation-based approach that allowed them to delve into the intricacies of the reaction sequence. Understanding the steps is vital to eventually synthesizing MOFs by the boxcar, not the test tube.

Molecular Road Rage

Transformations: Future Challenges for Catalytic Vehicle Emission Control, Industrial Catalyst Developer at National Lab, Why Bio-oil Turns to Gunk

(September 2014)

In the September issue of Transformations:

Abatement of harmful compounds in vehicle exhaust and other sources is a key driver of catalysis research. Alongside the many successes are new challenges for scientists developing catalytic emission control applications, as summarized by catalysis scientist Chuck Peden. Also, meet Hai-Ying Chen, a catalyst developer at Johnson Matthey, who recently completed a 9-week fellowship at PNNL--a great example of bringing industry and a national lab together to work on clean energy. And see "Why Bio-oil Turns to Gunk," a videohighlighting recent research by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory uncovering some of the forces that thwart biofuel production.

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