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
[google_news title=”” keyword=”artificial catalysts” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Artificial catalysts
- A Once-in-a-Generation Investment Opportunity: 1 Artificial Intelligence (AI) Growth Stock to Buy Now and Hold Foreveron March 3, 2024 at 2:36 am
AI could have the most profound impact on technology adoption since the dawn of the internet. One company has pivoted to embrace this shift.
- Could the Next Catalyst for Nvidia and AMD's Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chips Be This Trillion-Dollar Company?on March 2, 2024 at 6:00 am
See the 10 stocks Could the Next Catalyst for Nvidia and AMD's Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chips Be This Trillion-Dollar Company? was originally published by The Motley Fool ...
- Could the Next Catalyst for Nvidia and AMD's Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chips Be This Trillion-Dollar Company?on March 2, 2024 at 1:00 am
You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst ...
- Stocks Are Ignoring the Fed, Why AI’s Becoming a Powerful High-Risk Catalyst. And 5 Other Things to Know Before Markets Open.on March 1, 2024 at 4:03 am
Markets would normally have been spooked by core PCE, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation metric, rising 0.4% in January from the previous month. While that was in line with expectations, it’s ...
- Totango and Catalyst Mergeon February 28, 2024 at 9:42 am
Catalyst's guided and flexible experiences with advanced workflow capabilities will be unified with Totango's enterprise-level security, governance, team management, and integrations. Advanced account ...
- AI-Based Self-Driving Lab Speeds Catalysis Researchon February 27, 2024 at 11:12 am
The team published its study “ Autonomous Reaction Pareto-Front Mapping with a Self-driving Catalysis Lab ” in Nature Chemical Engineering. “Ligands play a crucial role in enabling challenging ...
- SoundHound AI Stock Up 176% YTD, Boosted By Nvidia, SoftBank, And 3 Other Key Catalystson February 27, 2024 at 6:14 am
SoundHound AI (SOUN) up 18% in pre-market trading due to recent events, including Nvidia's investment. Known for voice-enabled AI and music recognition technology.
- Health Care AI Startup Raises $60 Million From General Catalyst, Thrive, GVon February 21, 2024 at 4:26 am
Fabric Labs Inc., a startup that uses artificial intelligence to automate clinical and administrative work in health care, has raised $60 million in a funding round led by General Catalyst.
- AI As Startup Catalyst: What It Can And Cannot Deliveron February 20, 2024 at 2:11 pm
There is little doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) is and will continue to be a significant asset to existing businesses and a driver of new business creation.
- AI-assisted robot lab develops new catalysts to synthesize methanol from CO₂on February 20, 2024 at 6:17 am
Artificial intelligence and automated laboratory infrastructure are massively accelerating the development of new chemical catalysts. With these tools, researchers at ETH Zurich are developing ...
via Bing News