Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Bacteria inspire synthetic catalysts


Using a natural catalyst from bacteria for inspiration, researchers have now reported the fastest synthetic catalysts to date for hydrogen production-- producing 45 million hydrogen molecules per second.

The chemical bonds in hydrogen gas, for example, could power fuel cells, internal combustion engines, or generators. Using a natural catalyst from bacteria for inspiration, researchers have now developed the fastest synthetic catalyst for hydrogen production -- producing 45 million molecules per second. Instead of a costly metal, this catalyst uses inexpensive, abundant nickel at its busy core.

Although the catalyst requires more energy to run than a conventional platinum catalyst, the insight garnered from this result might eventually help make hydrogen fuel in an environmentally friendly, affordable way.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers designed the catalyst to have longer arms that would drag and slow down the flopping. They tested different arm lengths and found the longer the arms, the faster the catalyst produced hydrogen molecules.


They also measured how fast the arms were swinging around. The longer the arms, the slower the movement, allowing them to attribute the faster hydrogen production to the slower arm movements. Like excited children playing catch, calming down a bit lets them hit their mark more often.

See:

Allan Jay P. Cardenas, Bojana Ginovska, Neeraj Kumar, Jianbo Hou, Simone Raugei, Monte L. Helm, Aaron M. Appel, R. Morris Bullock, Molly O'Hagan. Controlling Proton Delivery through Catalyst Structural Dynamics.Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2016; 55 (43): 13509 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201607460

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle