• 45 mins Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 2 hours $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 4 hours Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 6 hours Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 8 hours Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 14 hours Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 19 hours Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 23 hours Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 1 day Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 1 day Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 1 day Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 1 day Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 2 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 2 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 2 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 2 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 2 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 2 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 2 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 2 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 3 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 3 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 3 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 3 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 3 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 3 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 4 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 4 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 4 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 4 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 4 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects
  • 4 days Aramco To List Shares In Hong Kong ‘For Sure’
  • 4 days BP CEO Sees Venezuela As Oil’s Wildcard
  • 4 days Iran Denies Involvement In Bahrain Oil Pipeline Blast
  • 7 days The Oil Rig Drilling 10 Miles Under The Sea
  • 7 days Baghdad Agrees To Ship Kirkuk Oil To Iran
  • 7 days Another Group Joins Niger Delta Avengers’ Ceasefire Boycott
  • 7 days Italy Looks To Phase Out Coal-Fired Electricity By 2025
  • 7 days Kenya Set To Give Local Communities Greater Share Of Oil Revenues
  • 7 days Rosneft, China To Deepen Strategic Cooperation
Alt Text

Aramco Board Targeted In Anti-Corruption Crackdown

Saudi Arabian officials made a…

Alt Text

The Undisputed Leader Of Tomorrow’s Oil & Gas Markets

According to the Executive Director…

Using Carbon as a Cheap Substitute for Platinum Catalysts

Using Carbon as a Cheap Substitute for Platinum Catalysts

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory as part of a team searching for an inexpensive alternative to platinum catalysts, turned to carbon, developing multi-walled carbon nanotube complex that consists of cylindrical sheets of carbon.

Led by Stanford University’s Hongjie Dai, the team’s 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.

Platinum has long been prized for its ability to spur key chemical reactions in a process called catalysis, but at more than $1,400 ± an ounce at this writing, its high price is a limiting factor for applications like fuel cells, which rely on the metal.

The cylindrical sheets of carbon are built up to multi-walled carbon nanotube complex.  Next the outer wall of the complex is partially “unzipped” with the addition of ammonia.  That’s when the new material was found to exhibit catalytic properties comparable to platinum.  That was too easy and good to be true.

The researchers suspected that the complex’s properties were due to added nitrogen and iron impurities.  However, they couldn’t verify the material’s chemical behaviour until ORNL ‘microscopists’ made images of the unzipped tubes on an atomic level.

Iron and Nitrogen Atoms in the Carbon Nanotube Complex.
Iron and Nitrogen Atoms in the Carbon Nanotube Complex.

Team member Juan-Carlos Idrobo of ORNL offers a brief overview of the procedure, “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 straightforward 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. ”

Carbon Nanotube Complex with the Iron Atoms Circled in Red.
Carbon Nanotube Complex with the Iron Atoms Circled in Red.

The 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.

The team’s findings are published in Nature Nanotechnology as “An Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalyst Based on Carbon Nanotube-Graphene Complexes.”

Now the new catalyst isn’t as broadly applicable as platinum, it can act as an oxygen reduction reaction electrocatalyst in both acidic and alkaline solutions.  The team by design or happenstance, which isn’t made clear, learned a unique oxidation condition partially unzipped the outer walls of the few-walled carbon nanotubes creating nanoscale sheets of graphene attached to the inner tubes.

So far as is known, the graphene sheets contain extremely small amounts of iron that originated from nanotube growth seeds, and nitrogen impurities, which facilitate the formation of catalytic sites and boost the activity of the catalyst.

Of considerable importance is while the graphene sheets formed from the unzipped part of the outer wall of the nanotubes are responsible for the catalytic activity, the inner walls remain intact and retain their electrical conductivity, which facilitates charge transport during electrocatalysis.
It’s all rather neat.  The outstanding question may be what other ‘impurities’ might be applied to arrive at other goals.  Those inner walls retaining electrical conductivity are sure incentives for much more research.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Carbon May Substitute for Platinum as a Catalyst




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News