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Institute for Integrated Catalysis

Research Highlights

Catalysis lies at the heart of efficient and effective chemical transformations for manufacturing products and producing energy, while reducing environmental impacts. Innovative scientists and engineers at the Institute for Integrated Catalysis are conducting world-leading research in this field. Here are a few examples of our work:

2017

Laboratory

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Fueling A Sustainable Future
As it appeared in the Tri-City Herald on June 4, 2017(June 2017)

Vanda Glezakou and Roger Rousseau

Glezakou and Rousseau to Lead a Two-Day Symposium at National Conference
Event will feature breakthroughs relevant to carbon dioxide chemistry and transformations(March 2017)

Water molecules land on oxide

Tipping Water: Finding the Balance Between Keeping Molecules Whole or Splitting Them on Oxides
Scientists end long-standing controversy about a ubiquitous reaction involved in catalysts, corrosion, and more(February 2017)

Synthetic catalyst for energy storage

The Contradictory Catalyst
Researchers find the key to speeding up the rate of reaction of a potential catalyst for energy storage lies in making the reactive parts of the catalyst move more slowly.(February 2017)

Amino acid alters nickel

There and Back Again: Catalyst Mediates Energy-Efficient Proton Transport for Reversibility
Designer complex reduces obstacles in creating solar fuels(February 2017)

Highly ordered sodium silicate particles

Taking Materials into the Third Dimension
One-pot technique creates structures with potential for more efficient manufacturing and energy storage(January 2017)

2016

Researchers study zeolite catalysts

Of Catalysts and Coke
Researchers peer inside catalyst used in biofuel processing to investigate why it clogs(December 2016)

Drawing of nitrogenase

A Cooperative Way to Make Ammonia
Determining how bacterial nitrogenase works could someday lead to better industrial production of fertilizer(October 2016)

Karl Mueller working on instrument

PNNL to Partner with University of Oregon
Agreement to benefit students, research and create funding opportunities(October 2016)

Artistic representation of plasmon-based synthesis of gold nanoparticles

Light Strikes Gold to Create Better Catalysts
A photochemical process yields precisely controlled gold nanocrystals for industry(August 2016)

Image showing ccobalt catalyst and lead investigator

The Case of the Cobalt Catalyst
The story's plotline could solve other mysteries around generating electricity without fossil fuels(July 2016)

Biomass and energy valley chart

A Watery Roadblock in the Pathway to Biofuels
Scientists show how water molecules add unwanted stability(July 2016)

Airplane

Scale-up of Aviation Biofuels from Alcohols Reaching New Heights
PNNL and industry partners achieve biofuel milestone, producing 5 gallons of synthetic paraffinic kerosene from CO derived alcohols(July 2016)

Following Nature's Lead: Mimicking Enzymes to Release Energy
Lessons from nature inspire breakthrough in catalyzing electricity from renewable energy(June 2016)

Healing broken bonds in zeolites

How to Heal Broken Bonds, Catalyst Style
Scientists show how to fix interior defects, possibly leading to a more stable and efficient catalyst for biofuel production(June 2016)

Catalytic efficiency vs cost

Five Cents About Nickel Catalysts
Computational methods and experimental techniques reveal important design principles for future nickel catalysts(May 2016)

Negative POM ions distributed on supercapacitor

Cleaning up Hybrid Battery Electrodes Improves Capacity and Lifespan
New way of designing supercapacitor-battery electrodes eliminates interference from inactive components(May 2016)

Artistic interpretation of soft landing review paper

The Hard Facts about Soft Landing Ions
Scientists review cutting-edge techniques that offer insights into processes of interest for energy production, storage, and catalysis(April 2016)

Artistic interpretation of cobalt catalyst

Cobalt Gets the Job Done
Catalyst produces hydrogen through steam reforming of biomass-derived ethylene glycol(April 2016)

Four reactions on gold background

Measuring Up: The Gold Standard for Catalysts in Real World Conditions
Combining 4 well-known reactions precisely predicts how well a catalyst performs(April 2016)

Chromium catalyzes reaction

Chromium Breaks the Toughest of Bonds, with the Right Support
Phosphorus atoms help drive metal to form ammonia, adding insights to turning renewable energy to fuel(March 2016)

2015

Diagram of catalyst working

The Catalyst's Choice
The products created depend on the availability of highly active hydrogen atoms(December 2015)

Laser device

Seaweed: The New Biofuel
PNNL collaborates on ARPA-E project(December 2015)

Artistic representation of rotor in NMR

Teaching Reactions How to Navigate
New topographical map shows the energy hills and valleys involved in turning electrons into fuel(November 2015)

Artistic representation of rotor in NMR

Going to Extremes with Zirconia
Scientists can now study samples under industrial conditions thanks to new tool(November 2015)

New material architectures could be used in fuel cells and sensors

The Noble Architecture of New Materials
Invited review shows progress in building ordered or chaotic structures for fuel cells(October 2015)

Windmills

Shoving Protons Around
Review highlights molecular-level work involved in creating a design guide for catalysts for use of sustainable energy(September 2015)

Artistic representation of oxygen spill

Please Do Spill the Oxygen
Scientists show how clusters funnel atoms to create oxygen pools that benefit biofuels, fuel cells, and sensors(September 2015)

Wind energy

How to Store Sunlight on a Tight Energy Budget: Add More Protons
The reaction to convert solar energy to fuel is 50 times faster with a simple change in the solvent used(August 2015)

ACS Catalysis cover, July 2015

Scientists Discover Precise Location of Active Sites on Popular Catalyst
New design parameters could one day speed production and reduce costs for manufacturing everyday coatings and products(August 2015)

Danny Perea looks into an atom probe

Aluminum Clusters Shut Down Molecular Fuel Factory
3-D images give clues to extending catalyst life(July 2015)

Drop cast of catalyst

No Catalyst Is an Island
Once thought unimportant, a supporting film actually speeds or derails electricity production(June 2015)

Zeolites and nitrogen oxides

The Shorter Road to Having It All: Fuel Efficiency and Cleaner Exhausts
Five scientists review the state of research on two catalysts that can work in lean-burn engines(June 2015)

Depiction of enzyme with clusters

Kneading Enzyme Makes Ammonia Levels Rise
Electron-delivering protein manipulates natural catalyst, changing ideas about fertilizer production(June 2015)

Argining model with reaction

Mimicking Biology to Create Fast, Efficient Catalysts
Scientists are uncovering the design principles of natural catalysts, vital to energy storage(May 2015)

Conceptual art of nanoparticles with soft-landing instrument

The Softer Side of Control without Clumping or Capping
Creating bare, two-metal particles provides insights into potential substitutes for costly platinum in fuel cell catalysts(April 2015)

Artistic rendering of ammonia synthesis bottleneck

Shattering Bottlenecks in Ammonia Production
New material supplies electrons to quickly disrupt nitrogen bond, speeding up the reaction(April 2015)

Article named hot article by journal

Sailing Through Uncharted Waters to Discover Catalysts' Secrets
In the last 5 years, scientists have come a long way in characterizing reactions in aqueous environments(March 2015)

add alt text

In the Heat of the Reaction, a Single Atom Delivers
Converting carbon monoxide in fuel cells with a gold catalyst hinges on one ion shuttling the critical electron(March 2015)

Catalyst energy maps

Adventure Planning, Catalyst Style
A new approach shows the molecular consequences of everything from taking unnecessary detours to getting hopelessly lost(February 2015)

Algae reactor

Renewable Fuel from Algae
Process efficiently turns algae into biocrude oil(January 2015)

2014

Artistic interpretation of catalyst

Small but Tough: Iridium Nanoparticles Resist Deactivation in Biofuel Production
Scientists characterized catalysts to determine ability to convert methane to more valuable fuels(December 2014)

Journal of Physical Chemistry C cover

Electron-Rich Ions Retain Charge When Softly Landed
Soft landing of cage-like, negatively charged Keggin ions provides insight into energy storage(December 2014)

Artistic representation of delta alumina

Weaving a Catalyst
Popular aluminum oxide created by interlacing different crystal forms(November 2014)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Biofuel

Water Leads to Chemical that Gunks up Biofuels Production
Study shows water trips up key chemical reactions that turn plants into fuels, provides scientific principles that can speed up biofuel development(August 2014)

Aluminum EXAFS and zeolite structure

Creating a GPS for Aluminum Ions
New approach pinpoints locations in simple zeolite catalysts(August 2014)

Picking pi electrons

Cherry Picking Molecules Based on Their Pi Electrons
New material has second-to-none selectivity for ethylene, a high-demand industrial chemical(July 2014)

Proton binding locations

Building the Ideal Rest Stop for Protons
Determining preferences provides insight into molybdenum complex's ability to produce ammonia precursor(July 2014)

Gold clusters

The Stability of Gold Clusters: Every Ligand Counts
The number of molecules attached to gold clusters has a previously unrecognized influence(July 2014)

Electromolecular Catalysis Overpotential

Researchers Propose a Common Yardstick to the Efficiency of Molecular Electrocatalysts
Finding a consistent and accurate overpotential description to compare catalytic performance(June 2014)

Morris Bullock

DOE to Renew Energy Frontier Research Center at PNNL
Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis unites experts from many fields to conquer problems in energy production, storage and use(June 2014)

cobalt tem

Cobalt Migrates and Forms Islands in Two-Metal Catalysts
Chemical imaging technique provides insights for materials used in fuel production(June 2014)

catalyst speed

Predicting Potholes on the Road to Renewable Energy
Storing wind-generated electricity as fuels means catalysts must avoid low energy states(May 2014)

Getting into the Fast Lane Means Minor Adjustments Far from the Catalyst's Core
Adding an amino acid increases speed by 400% and requires little energy(May 2014)

Greening plastic bottles

State of the Science: Making Plastics from Biomass, Not Fossil Fuels
Researchers review advances in catalysts that turn bioethanol into valuable chemicals(May 2014)

Nitrogen channel

Navigating the Nitrogen Passage
Scientists discover channel used by catalyst to produce ammonia, vital for food and fuel crops(May 2014)

Neutron crystallography of iron catalyst

Halving Hydrogen
First view of nature-inspired catalyst after ripping hydrogen apart provides insights for better, cheaper fuel cells(April 2014)

Chemical Communication journal cover

Uncovering the Details of Proton Relays Vital to Creating New Catalysts for Energy Storage
Invited article reviews the science behind proton motion in hydrogen-generating catalysts(March 2014)

The Science of Creating Catalysts for Energy Storage
Dan DuBois at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reviews key advances in catalytic design(March 2014)

Artistic rendering of catalysts

Building Complexity through Collaboration
Scientists draw unified picture of alcohol's interactions with early transition metal oxide catalysts(March 2014)

Krypton escapes surface

Krypton Reporter Uncovers Oxygen's Antics
On the surface of a popular catalyst, certain atoms and molecules flee when light appears(March 2014)

Dalton Transactions cover

Revving Up Catalysts by Building in Proton-Only Offramp
Simple addition to catalyst's outer edge speeds bond breaking and electron release(February 2014)

Cartoon of E Probe

Microfluidic Probe Allows Real-Time Imaging of Electrode-Liquid Electrolyte Interface
New probe also couples electrochemistry and imaging approaches to observe interface kinetics(January 2014)

battery diagram

Battery Development May Extend Range of Electric Cars
New anode quadruples life of lithium-sulfur battery, could also help store renewable energy more cheaply(January 2014)

When Less Is More: Fewer Proton Relays Improve Catalytic Rates
First direct comparison of three nickel-based complexes shows complexes with 2 proton relays outperform those with 4(January 2014)

2013

diol on catalyst

The Complexity of Catalytically "Cracking" Cellulose
Molecule's carbon chain length affects oxygen's departure in key reaction for building bio-fuels(December 2013)

A Better Bit of Binding
New catalyst-free method decorates electrode with designer molecules for fuel cells, sensors(December 2013)

Catalysis and biofuels

Catalyst Requires Pre-Sorting of Oxygenated Molecules
Multiple "pots" needed to turn bio-based materials into hydrocarbon fuels(November 2013)

The Drive to Overcome Challenges
Boosting transportation technologies(October 2013)

Chart

Strong Influence of a Minor Substitution in Gold Clusters
Ligand change controls size, stability, and charge state of nanoparticles synthesized in solution(October 2013)

Computer model of a zeolite catalyst

How the Newest Diesel Engines Emit Very Little Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide
Latest catalytic converters reduce pollution by unusual mechanism(September 2013)

New Catalyst Dives into Water to Produce Hydrogen
Earth-abundant metal at heart of material that creates 170,000 molecules a second(August 2013)

Crystals

A Crystal of a Different Color
One chemical forms two colors of crystals, gives insight into agostic bonds vital in industrial catalysis(August 2013)

Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis poster

Who Did It Best? Energy Research Explained in 1001 Words
Take a moment and vote in the DOE challenge(July 2013)

ACS cover

When Benzene's Bonds Break: Hydrogen Release Depends on Bond Scission, Not Adsorption
First step in breaking apart aromatic compound is the rate-limiting step(June 2013)

Journal cover

Controlling Proton Source Speeds Catalyst in Turning Electricity to Fuel
Nickel-based catalyst three times faster with adjustments to key acid(April 2013)

Motivating Carbon Dioxide
Scientists show what it takes to get the potential fuel feedstock to a reactive spot on a model catalyst(April 2013)

Fuel cell

Synthetic Molecule First Electricity-Making Catalyst to Use Iron to Split Hydrogen Gas
Fast and efficient biologically inspired catalyst could someday make fuel cells cheaper(February 2013)

scanning transmission microscopy image

Catalyst Becomes More Selective After Oxygen Atoms' Departures
For the first time, scientists saw how titanium dioxide surface defects halt photodecomposition(February 2013)

Cover of Chemistry: A European Journal

Adding Natural Elements to Synthetic Catalysts Speeds Hydrogen Production
Scientists show how adding amino acids far from a catalyst's center can rev it up(February 2013)

Microscope view of gamma-alumina

Seeing a Common Catalyst with New Eyes
Chemical imaging microscope shows corrugated gamma-alumina surface(January 2013)

TEM images

Batteries Lose in Game of Thorns
Scientists see how and where disruptive structures form and cause voltage fading(January 2013)

Dalton Transactions cover

An Unexpected Pairing of Frustrated Molecules
Scientists at PNNL explain how separated molecules get together to split hydrogen(January 2013)

Periodic table

A Pathway for Protons
Efficient delivery to material's center turns oxygen cleanly into water(January 2013)

2012

Carbon dioxide diffuses on titanium rows.

The Complexities of a Simple Molecule
Carbon dioxide reveals a predilection for tumbling alone and lining up together(December 2012)

Synthesizing metalloradicals

Searching for Molecular Radical's Secrets of Stability
Once thought inherently unstable, these oxidized metal complexes actually hold together(October 2012)

Ionic Liquid

Ionic Liquid Improves Speed and Efficiency of Hydrogen-Producing Catalyst
Ongoing saga of building a better fuel cell catalyst goes holistic(June 2012)

The Copper Ion That Wasn't an Accident
Charged metal particle lets industrial catalyst add and remove electrons(May 2012)

EMSL NMR

Catalysis Research Selected for Team Science
EMSL announces Team Science projects to accelerate discovery(April 2012)

March PCCP Journal cover

Getting Your Catalyst What It Needs
New method creates highly reactive catalytic surface, packed with hydroxyl species(April 2012)

Catalyst in car

Catalyst Masters Reverse
New metal catalyst drives hydrogen fuel reaction forwards and backwards(February 2012)

PCCP Journal Cover

Studying the Chemistry as It Happens in Catalytic Reactions
New probe shows the in-between stages of a reaction under realistic conditions(January 2012)

Road and Sky Picture

Helping Hydrogen Move Back Home
Combining experiment and theory, scientists study the potential of inexpensive hydrogen activation catalysts to recharge chemical hydrogen storage materials(January 2012)

2011

Journal cover

Fingerprinting Uranium
Researchers show how to use x-rays to identify mobile, stationary forms of atomic pollutant(December 2011)

JACS Journal cover

Positioning and Pinching Slow Proton Movement in Catalyst
Changing conformations, tight bonds hamper proton movement needed to turn hydrogen into energy(September 2011)

Hydrogen Catalyst

Catalyst That Makes Hydrogen Gas Breaks Speed Record
Material designed for energy applications is10 times faster than natural enzyme, uses inexpensive metals(August 2011)

ethanol conversion to isobutene

A New Catalyst Might Expand the Usefulness of Ethanol Made from Biomass
Researchers potentially find a renewable path to fuel additives, rubber and solvents(August 2011)

Catalyst

Scientists Develop World's Fastest Nickel-Based Complex
Improves rates of hydrogen production(July 2011)

European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry

Designing Catalysts with Pendant Amines
Review covers how to relay protons for hydrogen production, oxidation(April 2011)

900-MHZ Spectrometer

Stories of Discovery and Innovation-
Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Fundamental studies in catalysis enabled the use of efficient "lean-burn" engines for vehicle transportation.(March 2011)

Grant Johnson, Julia Laskin

Ligand Stripping Leads to Unique Surface Catalyst
Novel approach uses ion-molecule collisions and deposition to create sought-after material(March 2011)

Ru02 Diagram

Accounting for Scale in Catalysis
Model simulates catalyst's heat transfer, thickness, and feedstock movement(March 2011)

nanoparticle of indium tin oxide

New Platform for Catalytic Design
Graphene and metal oxide combine to lock in power of platinum catalyst(February 2011)

Sunshine and power

Catalysis Science, Scientists Featured on PBS Interstitial Video
Challenges and progress in converting intermittent, renewable energy sources into fuel discussed(January 2011)

Molecule

Inflating a Collapsed Organic Lattice
Molecular carbon host volume is increased by 26 percent(January 2011)

2010

Cover of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C for December 16, 2010

A Rare Form of Silver Observed During Routine Calibration
True signature of Ag(III) observed for the first time(December 2010)

Nitrogen oxides reduction

Knocking Out Nitrogen Oxides
Expert discusses using small-pore zeolites to remove troublesome pollutant from exhaust(December 2010)

Artistic view of solid state hydrogen storage

A Solid Cold Solution
A catch-and-release solid-state fuel cell material operates coolly(November 2010)

alkylated aromatic rings and green chemistry

Controlling Catalysts
University of Virginia expert discusses new ways to drive old reactions(October 2010)

Dionisios Vlachos

Getting the Catalysts You Really Need
Creating catalysts should begin with what you want, not what you have, according to University of Delaware expert(October 2010)

Grant Johnson, Julia Laskin, and soft-landing apparatus

Separating the Catalysts from the Chaff
New soft landing instrument prepares pure, undamaged samples for analysis(September 2010)

Oxygen atoms settling down

Wanted: Vacancies
Travelling atoms discard electrons that prove vital to bonding oxygen on catalyst, cleanup(June 2010)

micrograph of catalyst

Opposites Attract and Inspire Electrocatalyst
U.S., China team convince platinum and gold particles to come together and form nanocatalysts(May 2010)

Oxygen Movement

Affordable Fuel Cells May Get Boost From Artificial Diamonds
U.S., China team show new electrolyte could lower internal temperatures and costs(April 2010)

Solar Cells

Cutting Through Questions for a Molecular-Level Understanding of Solar Cells
Expert discusses molecular modeling and simulation at PNNL seminar(March 2010)

Mass Spectrometer

New Class of Catalyst Sports Shapely Selectivity
A unique three-dimensional structure gives catalyst high surface area(March 2010)

Ammonia borane packing

The Package Matters
Tucking ammonia borane in mesoporous silica results in high-quality hydrogen at lower temperatures(February 2010)

hydrogen atoms

Finding the Perfect Spot to Rest
Scientists see carbon chains preferred locales on popular catalyst(January 2010)

2009

A Search for Stability for Platinum Catalysts
Crystalline carbon stops aggregation and fly away that degrade fuel cell performance(December 2009)

Molecular View of Bond

Catalytic Catamarans: Common industrial catalyst sports rafts made of platinum
Best view yet of catalyst used for energy and environment applications suggests tricks to improve performance(October 2009)

Molecular depiction

Truth Is Stranger Than Science
Article reviews path to discovering true properties of metal oxides(September 2009)

Pellet of solid ammonia borane

New Clues about a Hydrogen Fuel Catalyst
View of rhodium-based catalyst for hydrogen-fuel system offers ideas for improvement(August 2009)

Heteropoly acid on zeolite

The Secret Lives of Catalysts
Scientists use innovative tools to look deeper into chemical reactions than ever before(July 2009)

Jean-Pierre Gilson

Teaching Catalysts to Play Ball
Catalysis expert shares insights on chemical characterization with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers(July 2009)

Journal Cover

Crystals and Catalysts and Clusters, Oh My!
Scientists reveal inner workings of tiny particles vital to industry, environment(June 2009)

HMF flowchart

Plastic that Grows on Trees, Part Two
One-step process derives raw material for fuels and plastic from plants rather than crude oil(June 2009)

Ponderosa pine branches burning at test center

Previously Undetected Chemicals Found in Forest Fire Smoke
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team advances frontiers of particle science(April 2009)

Journal cover  Copyright 2009 American Chemical Society

Iron Takes Full Ten Rounds to Destroy Toxin
Scientists uncover complex reactions as metal turns toxic carbon tetrachloride to harmless chemicals(April 2009)

Pseudo-dissociation of water on titanium dioxide.

Dancing 'Adatoms' Help Chemists Understand How Water Molecules Split
The result might help understand chemical processes and catalysts for generating energy(March 2009)

Intermediate formation

Elusive Intermediates Captured for the First Time
New insights into catalyst aid in the hunt to produce hydrogen fuel(February 2009)

2008

Graphic: Palladium surface.

Lonely Atoms Work Harder on Palladium Catalyst
Scientists discover how to boost the metal's reactivity by 50 percent(December 2008)

Journal of Physical Chemistry A

Lonesome Ion Looking for Company
Model helps scientists better predict molecules' behavior in water(December 2008)

Hydrogen Movement.

The Repulsive Behavior of Hydrogen Atoms
Quick, complex diffusion process sheds light on reactions on popular catalyst(November 2008)

Hydrogen and Metal Catalyst

Trapping Sunlight for Later Use Requires Effective Catalysts
Article reviews work to imitate Mother Nature's processes(October 2008)

Computational models.

Looking for a Cheap Catalyst
Scientists study how atoms behave when alcohol interacts with promising, inexpensive catalyst to produce hydrogen(May 2008)

Tungsten trioxide catalyzed dehydration of alcohol.

A Molecular Makeover
Scientists see how tungsten trioxide transforms oxidizing alcohols into alkenes(April 2008)

"Hot" Oxygen Atoms on Titanium Dioxide Motivated by More Than Just Temperature
PNNL scientists find unexpected chemical behavior on catalyst surface(February 2008)

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