Stanford researchers have made a significant advance in the development of artificial catalysts for making cleaner chemicals and fuels at an industrial scale.
All living organisms depend on enzymes – molecules that speed up biochemical reactions that are essential for life.
Scientists have spent decades trying to create artificial enzymes capable of cranking out important chemicals and fuels at an industrial scale with performance rivaling their natural counterparts.
Researchers from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a synthetic catalyst that produces chemicals much the way enzymes do in living organisms. In a study published in the Aug. 5 issue of Nature Catalysis, the researchers say their discovery could lead to industrial catalysts capable of producing methanol using less energy and at a lower cost. Methanol has a variety of applications, and there is a growing demand for its use as a fuel with lower emissions than conventional gasoline.
“We took our inspiration from nature,” said senior author Matteo Cargnello, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “We wanted to mimic the function of natural enzymes in the laboratory using artificial catalysts to make useful compounds.”
For the experiment, the researchers designed a catalyst made of nanocrystals of palladium, a precious metal, embedded in layers of porous polymers tailored with special catalytic properties. Most protein enzymes found in nature also have trace metals, like zinc and iron, embedded in their core.
The researchers were able to observe trace palladium in their catalysts with electron microscopic imagery by co-author Andrew Herzing of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“We focused on a model chemical reaction: converting toxic carbon monoxide and oxygen into carbon dioxide (CO2),” said PhD student Andrew Riscoe, lead author of the study. “Our goal was to see if the artificial catalyst would function like an enzyme by speeding up the reaction and controlling the way CO2 is produced.”
To find out, Riscoe placed the catalyst in a reactor tube with a continuous flow of carbon monoxide and oxygen gas. When the tube was heated to about 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit), the catalyst began generating the desired product, carbon dioxide.
High-energy X-rays from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC revealed that the catalyst had traits similar to those seen in enzymes: The palladium nanocrystals inside the catalyst were continuously reacting with oxygen and carbon monoxide to produce carbon dioxide. And some of the newly formed carbon dioxide molecules were getting trapped in the outer polymer layers as they escaped from the nanocrystals.
“The X-rays showed that once the polymer layers were filled with CO2, the reaction stopped,” said Cargnello, an affiliate with the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative (NGI). “This is important, because it’s the same strategy used by enzymes. When an enzyme produces too much of a product, it stops working, because the product is no longer needed. We showed that we can also regulate the production of CO2 by controlling the chemical composition of the polymer layers. This approach could impact many areas of catalysis.”
The X-ray imaging was conducted by study co-authors Alexey Boubnov, a Stanford postdoctoral scholar, and SLAC scientists Simon Bare and Adam Hoffman.
With the success of the carbon dioxide experiment, Cargnello and his colleagues have turned their attention to converting methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, into methanol, a chemical widely used in textiles, plastics and paints. Methanol has also been touted as a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gasoline fuel.
“The ability to convert methane to methanol at low temperatures is considered a holy grail of catalysis,” Cargnello said. “Our long-term goal is to build a catalyst that behaves like methane monooxoygenase, a natural enzyme that certain microbes use to metabolize methane.”
Most methanol today is produced in a two-step process that involves heating natural gas to temperatures of about 1,000 C (1,800 F). But this energy-intensive process emits a large amount ofcarbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change.
“An artificial catalyst that directly converts methane to methanol would require much lower temperatures and emit far less CO2,” Riscoe explained. “Ideally, we could also control the products of the reaction by designing polymer layers that trap the methanol before it burns.”
“In this work, we demonstrated that we can prepare hybrid materials made of polymers and metallic nanocrystals that have certain traits typical of enzymatic activity,” said Cargnello, who is also affiliated with Stanford’s SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis. “The exciting part is that we can apply these materials to lots of systems, helping us better understand the details of the catalytic process and taking us one step closer to artificial enzymes.”
The Latest on: Artificial catalysts
via Google News
The Latest on: Artificial catalysts
- Corporate citizens must become global catalysts on November 17, 2019 at 11:05 am
The catalyst is the Fourth Industrial Revolution ... this must include using the unprecedented power of platform leadership to catalyse global-scale solutions. Earlier this year, the artificial-meat ...
- Apple Card controversy: Artificial intelligence learned its gender bias from Silicon Valley, tech expert says on November 15, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Continue Reading Below Apple made headlines Sunday when the artificial intelligence algorithm behind its ... WARREN SLAMS GOLDMAN'S RESPONSE TO APPLE CARD GENDER BIAS ACCUSATIONS Catalyst president ...
- AI for 5G Billing Data Acceleration Program Wins TM Forum "Outstanding Catalyst-Innovation" Award on November 15, 2019 at 3:27 am
The award was presented on November 14 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Catalyst is championed by China Unicom, targeting the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and calculations in ...
- 3 Secular Catalysts That Will Drive Alibaba Stock into the Future on November 14, 2019 at 5:10 am
So let’s take a look at the main catalysts for Alibaba stock: This could perhaps be the most important catalyst ... Tom Taulli is the author of the book, Artificial Intelligence Basics: A ...
- Global Catalyst Fertilizers Market 2019 Trends, Market Share, Industry Size, Opportunities, Analysis and Forecast To 2026 on November 14, 2019 at 3:20 am
which is known as catalysts. Thus, naturally, these types of fertilizers are artificial and known to be somewhat dangerous for humans or other animals. However, for the plants, these types of ...
- Whale Cloud Showcases Innovative 5G Catalyst Projects at TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia 2019 on November 13, 2019 at 6:48 am
In the Catalysts, Whale Cloud and its partners are exploring how new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and block-chain help communications service providers (CSPs) to facilitate ...
- AI Helps In Search For ‘Green Bullet Catalyst’ In Hydrogen Fuel Production on November 13, 2019 at 12:43 am
Researchers have also made it easier to search for the elusive "green bullet" catalyst. "We know what we need to optimize now, so it is just a case of finding the right combinations," Michael Craig ...
- Experienced Technology Executives Julie Larson-Green and S. Dawn Smith appointed to Health Catalyst Board of Directors on November 12, 2019 at 1:21 pm
Dawn Smith appointed to Health Catalyst Board of Directors SALT LAKE CITY ... “Julie brings more than two decades of success applying artificial intelligence, collaboration, and digital assistance ...
- Cyprus plan for Artificial Intelligence ready in a month on November 5, 2019 at 5:39 am
“The aim is for Parliament to act as a catalyst, so that Cyprus finds itself ready to fully appreciate ... that a National Strategy for Decentralized Technologies has already been adopted. The House ...
- Scientists create 'artificial leaf' that turns carbon into fuel on November 5, 2019 at 4:46 am
Scientists have created an "artificial leaf" to fight climate change by inexpensively converting harmful ... sodium hydroxide and sodium dodecyl sulfate - are added to water that has been heated to a ...
via Bing News