Carbon nanotube material, alternative platinum catalysts

Carbon nanotube material, an alternative for platinum catalysts

12:01 PM, 18th June 2012
Carbon nanotube material, an alternative for platinum catalysts
Electron microscopy at Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirmed that carbon nanotube complex’s structure incorporates many heavy atoms, such as the iron atoms circled in red.

OAK RIDGE, US: A newly developed carbon nanotube material could help lower the cost of fuel cells, catalytic converters and similar energy-related technologies by delivering a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts. The precious metal platinum has long been prized for its ability to spur key chemical reactions in a process called catalysis, but its high price is a limiting factor for applications like fuel cells, which rely on the metal.

In a search for an inexpensive alternative, a team including researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory turned to carbon, one of the most abundant elements. Hongjie Dai, Researcher, Stanford University and team developed a multi-walled carbon nanotube complex that consists of cylindrical sheets of carbon.

Once the outer wall of the complex was partially ‘unzipped’ with the addition of ammonia, the material was found to exhibit catalytic properties comparable to platinum. Although the researchers suspected that the complex’s properties were due to added nitrogen and iron impurities, they couldn’t verify the material’s chemical behaviour until ORNL microscopists imaged it on an atomic level.

“With conventional transmission electron microscopy, it is hard to identify elements. Using a combination of imaging and spectroscopy in our scanning transmission electron microscope, the identification of the elements is straight-forward because the intensity of the nanoscale images tells you which element it is. The brighter the intensity, the heavier the element. Spectroscopy can then identify the specific element,” Juan-Carlos Idrobo, team member, ORNL.

ORNL microscopic analysis confirmed that the nitrogen and iron elements were indeed incorporated into the carbon structure, causing the observed catalytic properties similar to those of platinum. The next step for the team is to understand the relationship between the nitrogen and iron to determine whether the elements work together or independently.

© Oak Ridge National Laboratory News

0 Comments

Login

Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News


ExxonMobil, Rosneft develop tight oil reserves in Western Siberia

TUAPSE, RUSSIA: Rosneft and ExxonMobil will jointly develop tight oil reserves in Western Siberia and establish a joint Arctic research centre for off ...

Read more
Unilever restructures Ewloe activities, shifts 400 jobs to India

BANGALORE, INDIA: The Unilever, a personal care major, is planning to move some jobs to Bangalore as part of a restructuring exercise that would invol ...

Read more
EPA updates air quality standards for harmful fine pollutants

WASHINGTON, US: In response to a court order, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to its national air quality standards for ...

Read more
Evonik invests €350 million in Biolys facility in Brazil and Russia

ESSEN, GERMANY: Evonik plans to construct new facilities for the biotechnology production of its Biolys feed additive (source of L-lysine) in the grow ...

Read more
Zinc in higher oxidation state discovered, creates new chemistry

VIRGINIA, US: Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have tinkered with zinc molecule and discovered its existence in a higher oxidation state, ...

Read more
Novozymes’ partner Shengquan starts cellulosic ethanol production

BAGSVAERD, DENMARK/BEIJING, CHINA: Shengquan Group will start production of cellulosic ethanol next month at its new facility. It will be the first in ...

Read more