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Catalysis is estimated to be involved in 90% of all chemical processes and in the creation of 60% of the chemical products available on the market, but still it is rarely analysed at the atomic scale.
Diamond provides specialist analytical techniques for the atomic to microscale characterisation of various catalytic materials and the in situ study of catalytic processes.
Below are some examples of how these techniques have been applied.
The hunt for viable green alternatives to traditional petrol and diesel engines has led a move towards natural gas engines, which produce less carbon dioxide emissions.
But natural gas engines pose other problems due to unburnt methane (a potent greenhouse gas) in the exhaust feed. So scientists at Diamond, Johnson Matthey – a global leader in sustainable technologies - and the University of Reading, have been researching ways to improve catalysts to convert residual methane into more environmentally friendly products.
Indonesia is one of the largest suppliers of palm oil in the world, producing 42 million tonnes in 20181. It is also experiencing an increase in car usage, coupled with a growth in imports of fuel.
To overcome this problem, the Indonesian government is driving a move to biofuels. Until recently the fresh fruit bunch from palm oil has successfully been used, however the empty fruit bunch (EFB) and palm kernel shell (PKS) provide a more sustainable source of lignocellulose, a key component in second generation biofuel production.
One prospective method for the biofuel production is conversion of lignocellulose into bio-oil via fast pyrolysis and then upgrading the bio-oil over a catalyst, to remove oxygen. However, the existing alumina-based and noble metal catalysts still suffer from catalyst deactivation due to carbon deposition and metal leaching.
Over recent years we have seen a global move towards renewable energy not only to support increased demand for energy but also to reduce the production of carbon dioxide, a common pollutant from burning fossil fuels. Engineers and scientists are continually looking at ways to store this energy during periods of low user consumption (day-time) and to maximise its usage during periods of high demand (evening-time).Read more...
In the chemical industry and industrial research, catalysis plays a vital role. Catalysts are in constant development to fulfil economic, political and environmental demands. Gaining valuable new information about the atomicnanoscale chemical structure, coupled with information about the micro-distribution of such species, has applications across a wide range of disciplines such as materials, biomedical, environmental, and geophysical sciences.Read more...
Platinum group metals play a crucial role in a variety of applications and in particular for a host of catalytic applications. The largest application is currently in vehicle emission control (VEC) catalysts to efficiently reduce particulate matter, CO, NOx and hydrocarbons. This type of catalytic system is diverse and complex and generally contains 0.1-1 wt% active metal deposited on a thermally stable structural support. Therefore, applying a wide range of techniques is essential to fully understand these complex catalytic materials.Read more...
A proper understanding of structure-property relationships plays a central role in the design and discovery of novel materials. In many cases, exploring the relationship between the structure of a new material and its physical and chemical properties requires that measurements are carried out under exactly the same in situ conditions of temperature, pressure and atmosphere as the performance environments of the material of interest.Read more...
Catalytic production of methanol is an industrially important process and this high-energy density liquid is widely used in the manufacture of plastics and synthetic fibres, and in fuel cells. Currently, methanol is synthesized on a large scale using natural gas from an energy-inefficient process, which requires an endothermic, and therefore thermally intensive, step to completely break down the methane to CO/H2 before methanol can be formed. Scientists from the University of Oxford were keen to explore an alternative non-syn-gas route for methanol production utilising ethylene glycol (EG) which can be sourced from biomass.Read more...
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