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New Catalyst Recycles Greenhouse Gases into Fuel and Hydrogen Gas
< Professor Cafer T. Yavuz (left), PhD Candidate Youngdong Song (center), and Researcher Sreerangappa Ramesh (right) > Scientists have taken a major step toward a circular carbon economy by developing a long-lasting, economical catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas, and other chemicals. The results could be revolutionary in the effort to reverse global warming, according to the researchers. The study was published on February 14 in Science. “We set out to develop an effective catalyst that can convert large amounts of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane without failure,” said Cafer T. Yavuz, paper author and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at KAIST. The catalyst, made from inexpensive and abundant nickel, magnesium, and molybdenum, initiates and speeds up the rate of reaction that converts carbon dioxide and methane into hydrogen gas. It can work efficiently for more than a month. This conversion is called ‘dry reforming’, where harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, are processed to produce more useful chemicals that could be refined for use in fuel, plastics, or even pharmaceuticals. It is an effective process, but it previously required rare and expensive metals such as platinum and rhodium to induce a brief and inefficient chemical reaction. Other researchers had previously proposed nickel as a more economical solution, but carbon byproducts would build up and the surface nanoparticles would bind together on the cheaper metal, fundamentally changing the composition and geometry of the catalyst and rendering it useless. “The difficulty arises from the lack of control on scores of active sites over the bulky catalysts surfaces because any refinement procedures attempted also change the nature of the catalyst itself,” Yavuz said. The researchers produced nickel-molybdenum nanoparticles under a reductive environment in the presence of a single crystalline magnesium oxide. As the ingredients were heated under reactive gas, the nanoparticles moved on the pristine crystal surface seeking anchoring points. The resulting activated catalyst sealed its own high-energy active sites and permanently fixed the location of the nanoparticles — meaning that the nickel-based catalyst will not have a carbon build up, nor will the surface particles bind to one another. “It took us almost a year to understand the underlying mechanism,” said first author Youngdong Song, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. “Once we studied all the chemical events in detail, we were shocked.” The researchers dubbed the catalyst Nanocatalysts on Single Crystal Edges (NOSCE). The magnesium-oxide nanopowder comes from a finely structured form of magnesium oxide, where the molecules bind continuously to the edge. There are no breaks or defects in the surface, allowing for uniform and predictable reactions. “Our study solves a number of challenges the catalyst community faces,” Yavuz said. “We believe the NOSCE mechanism will improve other inefficient catalytic reactions and provide even further savings of greenhouse gas emissions.” This work was supported, in part, by the Saudi-Aramco-KAIST CO2 Management Center and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Other contributors include Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, and Saravanan Subramanian, all of whom are affiliated with the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability at KAIST; Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, and Aqil Jamal, all of whom are with the Research and Development Center in Saudi Arabia; and Dohyun Moon and Sun Hee Choi, both of whom are with the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory in Korea. Ozdemir is also affiliated with the Institute of Nanotechnology at the Gebze Technical University in Turkey; Fadhel and Jamal are also affiliated with the Saudi-Armco-KAIST CO2 Management Center in Korea. <Newly developed catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas and other chemicals.> Publication: Song et al. (2020) Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgO. Science, Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 777-781. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aav2412 Profile: Prof. Cafer T. Yavuz, MA, PhD email@example.com http://yavuz.kaist.ac.kr/ Associate Professor Oxide and Organic Nanomaterials for the Environment (ONE) Laboratory Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Youngdong Song firstname.lastname@example.org Ph.D. Candidate Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Adsorbent That Can Selectively Remove Water Contaminants
Professor Cafer T. Yavuz and his team at the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability (EEWS) have developed an adsorbent that can selectively capture soluble organic contaminants in water. This water treatment adsorbent is a fluorine-based nanoporous polymer that can selectively remove water-soluble micromolecules. It has the added advantage of being cheap and easily synthesized, while also being renewable. The results of this research have been published online in Nature Communication on November 10, 2016. The research paper is titled “Charge-specific Size-dependent Separation of Water-soluble Organic Molecules by Fluorinated Nanoporous Networks.” (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13377) Water pollution is accelerating as a result of global industrial development and warming. As new materials are produced and applied in the agricultural and industrial sectors, the types of contaminants expelled as sewage and waste water are also becoming diverse. Chemicals such as dyes and pesticides can be especially harmful because they are made up of small and highly soluble organic particles that cannot be completely removed during the water treatment process, ultimately ending up in our drinking water. The current conventional water treatment systems utilize processes such as activated carbon, ozonolysis, and reverse osmosis membrane. These processes, however, are designed to remove larger organic molecules with lower solubility, thus removal of very small molecules with high solubility is difficult. In addition, these micromolecules tend to be charged, therefore are less easily separated in aqueous form. The research team aimed to remove these small molecules using a new adsorbent technology. In order to remove aqueous organic molecular contaminants, the team needed an adsorbent that can adsorb micro-sized molecules. It also needed to introduce a chemical function that would allow it to selectively adsorb molecules, and lastly, the adsorbent needed to be structurally stable as it would be used underwater. The team subsequently developed an adsorbent of fluorine-based porous organic polymer that met all the conditions listed above. By controlling the size of the pores, this adsorbent is able to selectively adsorb aqueous micromolecules of less than 1-2 nm in size. In addition, in order to separate specific contaminants, there should be a chemical functionality, such as the ability to strongly interact with the target material. Fluorine, the most electronegative atom, interacts strongly with charged soluble organic molecules. The research team incorporated fluorine into an adsorbent, enabling it to separate charged organic molecules up to 8 times faster than neutral molecules. The adsorbent developed by Professor Yavuz’s team has wide industrial applications. It can be used in batch-adsorption tests, as well as in column separation for size- and charge-specific adsorption. Professor Yavuz stated that “the charge-selective properties displayed by fluorine has the potential to be applied in desalination or water treatment processes using membranes." This paper was first-authored by Dr. Jeehye Byun, and the research was funded by KAIST’s High Risk High Return Program and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea’s Mid-Career Researcher Program, as well as its Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change. Figure 1. Diagram conceptualizing the process of charge- and size-specific separation by the fluorine-based porous polymer adsorbent Figure 2. Difference in absorbance before and after using a porous fluorine polymer column to separate organic molecules Figure 3. Adsorption properties of a fluorine polymer according to the charge and size of organic molecules
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