Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U of M discovery to improve efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

29.06.2012
Breakthrough could reduce costs for the consumer

University of Minnesota engineering researchers are leading an international team that has made a major breakthrough in developing a catalyst used during chemical reactions in the production of gasoline, plastics, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost-savings in these multibillion-dollar industries.

The research is to be published in the June 29, 2012 issue of the leading scientific journal Science.

"The impact of this new discovery is enormous," said the team's lead researcher Michael Tsapatsis, a chemical engineering and materials science professor in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. "Every drop of gasoline we use needs a catalyst to change the oil molecules into usable gasoline during the refining process."

This research improves efficiencies by giving molecules fast access to the catalysts where the chemical reactions occur. Tsapatsis compared it to our use of freeways and side streets in our daily lives.

"It's faster and more efficient to use freeways to get where we want to go and exit to do our business compared to driving the side streets the entire way," he explained. "The catalysts used today are more like all side streets. Molecules move slowly and get stuck. The efficiencies of these new catalysts could lower the costs of gasoline and other products for all of us."

The research team built their prototype of the new catalyst using highly optimized ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets. They used a unique process to encourage growth of these nanosheets at 90-degree angles, similar to building a house of cards. The house-of-cards arrangement of the nanosheets makes the catalyst faster, more selective and more stable, but can be made at the same cost (or possibly cheaper) than traditional catalysts.

With faster catalysts available at no extra cost to the producer, production per manufacturing dollar will increase. With a higher output, it is conceivable that consumer costs will drop.

This new discovery builds upon previous discoveries at the University of Minnesota of ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets used as specialized molecular sieves for production of both renewable and fossil-based fuels and chemicals. These discoveries, licensed by the new Minnesota start-up company Argilex Technologies, are key components of the company's materials-based platform. The development of the new catalyst is complete, and the material is ready for customer testing.

"This breakthrough can have a major impact on both the conversion of natural gas to higher value chemicals and fuels, and on bio- and petroleum refiners," said Cesar Gonzalez, CEO of Argilex Technologies. "Using catalysts made by this novel approach, refiners will be able to obtain a higher yield of desirable products such as gasoline, diesel, ethylene and propylene. At Argilex, we envision this catalyst technology platform to become a key contributor to efficient use of natural resources and improved economics of the world's largest industries."

Researchers on the team are from around the globe. In addition to the University of Minnesota, researchers are from institutions in Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, Korea and Sweden.

Primary funding for this research is from the U.S. Department of Energy's Center for Catalysis and Energy Innovation, an Energy Frontier Research Center. The University of Minnesota is a partner in this multi-institutional research center at the University of Delaware. Other funding for this research is from the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Program, the University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, and the Abu Dhabi-Minnesota Institute for Research Excellence (ADMIRE) partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Institute.

Read the full research paper entitled "Synthesis of Self-Pillared Zeolite Nanosheets by Repetitive Branching," on the Science website: http://z.umn.edu/catalyst.

Rhonda Zurn | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umn.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht New tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times fast
20.02.2018 | University of Warwick

nachricht In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer
19.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>