Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New property of flames sparks advances in technology

08.06.2012
Chemists at UCL have discovered a new property of flames, which allows them to control reactions at a solid surface in a flame and opens up a whole new field of chemical innovation.

Published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, authors of the new study have discovered their previous understanding of how flames interact with a solid surface was mistaken. For the first time, they have demonstrated that a particular type of chemistry, called redox chemistry, can be accurately controlled at the surface.

This finding has wide implications for future technology, for example in detection of chemicals in the air, and in developing our understanding of the chemistry of lightning. It also opens up the possibility of being able to perform nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide electrolysis at the source for the management of green house gases.

Results of the study show that depending on the chemical make-up of the flame, scientists can record a distinctive electrical fingerprint. The fingerprint is a consequence of the behaviour of specific chemical species at the surface of a solid conducting surface, where electrons can exchange at a very precise voltage.

Dr Daren Caruana, from the UCL Department of Chemistry, said: "Flames can be modelled to allow us to construct efficient burners and combustion engines. But the presence of charged species or ions and electrons in flames gives them a unique electrical property."

Dr Caruana added: "By considering the gaseous flame plasma as an electrolyte, we show that it is possible to control redox reactions at the solid/gas interface."

The team developed an electrode system which can be used to probe the chemical make-up of flames. By adding chemical species to the flame they were able to pick up current signals at specific voltages giving a unique electrochemical finger print, called a voltammogram.

The voltammograms for three different metal oxides - tungsten oxide, molybdenum oxide and vanadium oxide - are all unique. Furthermore, the team also demonstrated that the size of the current signatures depend on the amount of the oxide in the flame. Whilst this is possible and routinely done in liquids, this is the first time to be shown in the gas phase.

UCL chemists have shown that there are significant differences between solid/gas reactions and their liquid phase equivalents. Liquid free electrochemistry presents access to a vast number of redox reactions, current voltage signatures that lie outside potential limits defined by the liquid.

The prospect of new redox chemistries will enable new technological applications such as electrodeposition, electroanalysis and electrolysis, which will have significant economic and environmental benefits.

Dr Caruana said: "The mystique surrounding the properties of fire has always captivated our imagination. However, there are still some very significant technical and scientific questions that remain regarding fire and flame. "

1. For more information or to interview Dr Daren Caruana please contact Clare Ryan in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3846, mobile: +44 07747 565 056, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: clare.ryan@ucl.ac.uk.

2. 'Dynamic electrochemistry in flame plasma electrolyte' is published online in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Copies of the paper are available from UCL Media Relations.
About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has 24,000 students from almost 140 countries, and more than 9,500 employees. Our annual income is over £800 million.

www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews

Clare Ryan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>