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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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Artistic representation of delta alumina

Weaving a Catalyst

Popular aluminum oxide created by interlacing different crystal forms

(November 2014)

The exhaust system in your car and the plastic cup holding your drink, along with countless other products, rely upon reactions driven by catalysts supported on aluminum oxides. Characterizing these aluminum oxides or alumina has been challenging. For the first time, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and FEI Company obtained an atomically resolved view of delta alumina. The team showed that the oxide is two crystal forms or variants woven together.

Monte Helm and Ryan Stolley

Helm and Stolley Comment on Combining Sunlight Harvesters and Catalysts in Nature Chemistry

(November 2014)

Congratulations to Dr. Monte Helm and Dr. Ryan Stolley, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, on having their commentary appear in the November 2014 issue of Nature Chemistry. The journal's editors asked the scientists to write a news and views article on a recent report about the catalytic production of hydrogen from renewable sources.

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.

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