Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanoifibers clean sulfur from fuel

18.12.2012
Sulfur compounds in petroleum fuels have met their nano-structured match.

University of Illinois researchers developed mats of metal oxide nanofibers that scrub sulfur from petroleum-based fuels much more effectively than traditional materials. Such efficiency could lower costs and improve performance for fuel-based catalysis, advanced energy applications and toxic gas removal.

Co-led by Mark Shannon, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at the U. of I. until his death this fall, and chemistry professor Prashant Jain, the researchers demonstrated their material in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Sulfur compounds in fuels cause problems on two fronts: They release toxic gases during combustion, and they damage metals and catalysts in engines and fuel cells. They usually are removed using a liquid treatment that adsorbs the sulfur from the fuel, but the process is cumbersome and requires that the fuel be cooled and reheated, making the fuel less energy efficient.

To solve these problems, researchers have turned to solid metal oxide adsorbents, but those have their own sets of challenges. While they work at high temperatures, eliminating the need to cool and re-heat the fuel, their performance is limited by stability issues. They lose their activity after only a few cycles of use.

Previous studies found that sulfur adsorption works best at the surface of solid metal oxides, so graduate student Mayank Behl, from Jain’s group, and Junghoon Yeom, then a postdoctoral researcher in Shannon’s group, set out to create a material with maximum surface area. The solution: tiny grains of zinc titanate spun into nanofibers, uniting high surface area, high reactivity and structural integrity in a high-performance sulfur adsorbent.

The nanofiber material is more reactive than the same material in bulk form, enabling complete sulfur removal with less material, allowing for a smaller reactor. The material stays stable and active after several cycles. Furthermore, the fibrous structure grants the material immunity from the problem of sintering, or clumping, that plagues other nano-structured catalysts.

“Our nanostructured fibers do not sinter,” Jain said. “The fibrous structure accommodates any thermophysical changes without resulting in any degradation of the material. In fact, under operating conditions, nanobranches grow from the parent fibers, enhancing the surface area during operation.”

Jain’s group will continue to investigate the enhanced properties of nanofiber structures, hoping to gain an atomic-level understanding of what makes the material so effective.

“We are interested in finding out the atomic sites on the surface of the material where the hydrogen sulfide adsorbs,” said Jain, who is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. “If we can know the identity of these sites, we could engineer an even more efficient adsorbent material. The atomic or nanoscale insight we gain from this material system could be useful to design other catalysts in renewable energy and toxic gas removal applications.”

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the department of chemistry and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the U. of I.
Editor’s notes: To reach Prashant Jain, call 217-333-3417;
email jain@illinois.edu.
The paper, “A regenerable oxide-based H2S adsorbent with nanofibrous morphology,” is available online.

Liz Ahlberg | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v7/n12/full/nnano.2012.194.html

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal
22.06.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>