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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:


Job Opportunity: Seeking Chief Scientist for Catalysis Science
(February 2017)

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)

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)

Transformations: New Initiative in Chemical Transformations, Energy Everywhere, Contradictory Catalyst
(February 2017)

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

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


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

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

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

PNNL is Part of Virgin Atlantic Airlines' Plan to Fly on Biofuels
(September 2016)

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

Transformations: Fundamental Catalysis Enabling Zero-Carbon-Footprint Future, Scale-up of Aviation Biofuels from Alcohols, Five Cents about Nickel Catalysts
(August 2016)

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

Researchers Improve Catalyst Efficiency for Clean Industries
(July 2016)

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

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)

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)

Catalyze It! Special Issue Highlights Drive for Discoveries at National Labs
(May 2016)

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

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

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)

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

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 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)


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

Transformations: Waste as Energy and Opportunity, Inventions in Catalysis, ACS Catalysis Lectureship Winners Interview
(December 2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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)

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

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

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)

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

Transformations: Focus on Zeolites, Catalysis at ACS Meeting, Exploring Molecular Channels
(May 2015)

EMSL Integration 2015 Explores Advanced Batteries and Catalysis Research
Registration now open(May 2015)

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

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)

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

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)

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)

Transformations: The Value of Catalysis, Top Five List from CME's Last Five Years, Catalytic Choreography
(February 2015)

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

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


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)

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

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

Cheap Catalyst Gets Expensive Accessory
Together, iron and palladium help remove troubling oxygen for biofuel reaction(October 2014)

Liquid Water Fails To Keep Ions Apart
Study changes conventional wisdom about how acids behave in water(October 2014)

Left Alone, Palladium Atoms Get the Job Done
Isolated atoms quickly tackle carbon monoxide, potentially reducing lean-burn engine emissions(October 2014)

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)

Transformations: Future Challenges for Catalytic Vehicle Emission Control, Industrial Catalyst Developer at National Lab, Why Bio-oil Turns to Gunk
(September 2014)

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)

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

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

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

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

Transformations: Changing the Game in Biomass Conversion, Molecular Road Rage, and Long-Lived Biofuel Catalysts
(July 2014)

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

Transformations: Meeting the Catalysis Challenge in Aviation Fuels, Propylene Glycol Process Recognized, Role of Frustrated Lewis Pairs in Catalysis
(February 2014)

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 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)


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)

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)

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

Scientists Write Invited Review to Commemorate 60th Anniversary of Scientific Journal
(September 2013)

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

Transformations: Kicking Catalysis' Precious Metals Habit, and the Strength of Collaborations
(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)

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

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

Transformations: Catalysis from Basic to Applied, from Crowded Highways to Open Skies
(July 2013)

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)

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)

One Year into Three-Year Bio-Based Jet Fuel Project
(March 2013)

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)

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

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)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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)


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

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

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

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)

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

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

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)

ICCE Adds Partners, Sharpens Scope of Collaborations
(March 2011)

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

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

Chemists Turn PNNL Peer-Reviewed Article into One of ACS Nano's Most Cited Papers of 2010
(March 2011)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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)

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

PNNL, Chinese Researchers Begin Cooperative Clean Energy Work
(July 2010)

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

Imaging Atoms and Revolutionizing Laptop Computers
(June 2010)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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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