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Drop cast of catalyst

No Catalyst Is an Island

Once thought unimportant, a supporting film actually speeds or derails electricity production

(June  2015)

Quickly, reliably turning wind energy into fuel means looking beyond the catalyst to its foundation, according to a study from the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, headquartered at Pacific Northwest National Lab. The team discovered that the catalyst's support has as much of an impact as the catalyst structure itself because the technique used to place the support changes the mesoscale environment.

Monte Helm

Monte Helm Advises Next Generation of Innovators

(March  2015)

Catalysis scientist Monte Helm joined national lab colleagues to fill grad students and postdocs in on what it takes to get into a national lab and what it takes to stay. He took part in two webinars hosted by the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry in February and March. The CSMC is a Center for Chemical Innovation sponsored by the NSF offering student and professional development opportunities and programs to train the next generation of innovators.

Zdenek Dohnalek at scanning tunneling microscope

Transformations: The Value of Catalysis, Top Five List from CME's Last Five Years, Catalytic Choreography

(February  2015)

The Institute for Integrated Catalysis' Transformations contains an overview on the value of catalysis to the economy, society, and scientific research. This issue's feature is on the first five years of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis at PNNL. Don't miss the latest video, "Catalytic Choreography." Zdenek Dohnalek (see photo) explains how his team discovers how molecules move, break and rejoin on the surface of a catalyst--fundamental knowledge for designing better catalysts to produce renewable energy.

Hydrogen molecules

Catalysis Team Wins Prestigious National Lectureship

(February  2015)

Congratulations to the Hydrogen Catalysis Team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on winning the 2015 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science. The team earned the award for research that has revolutionized understanding of the role of proton movement in the electrocatalytic interconversion of electricity and hydrogen fuel.

This is the first team win for the lectureship. The members are Morris Bullock, Daniel DuBois, Monte Helm, Michel Dupuis, Simone Raugei, Jenny Yang, John Roberts, Molly O'Hagan, Wendy Shaw, Aaron Appel, and Eric Wiedner at PNNL, and Sharon Hammes-Schiffer at University of Illinois. The team is part of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the DOE Office of Science's Basic Energy Sciences.

Catalyst energy maps  /></a>

<h2><a href=Adventure Planning, Catalyst Style

A new approach shows the molecular consequences of everything from taking unnecessary detours to getting hopelessly lost

(February  2015)

With catalysts, small design decisions can derail a trip through complex reaction paths. At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists have elaborated on a strategy to map the catalytic route. Scientists can now explore design decisions with molecular catalysts that store or release energy from the chemical bond in dihydrogen.

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Chemical Reviews

(January  2015)

Congratulations to Dr. Sharon Hammes-Schiffer on being appointed editor-in-chief of Chemical Reviews beginning in 2015. Hammes-Schiffer is a world leader in theoretical and computational chemistry. She has extensively studied proton-coupled electron transfer reactions at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis. She is the Swanlund Professor of Chemistry at theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Organometallics jouranl covers

Metal Catalysts from Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis Featured on Two Journal Covers

(December  2014)

Congratulations to researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on having two of the outstanding metal catalysts they have developed featured on the covers of issues of Organometallics, a journal published by the American Chemical Society. The work was done in the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center, headquartered at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Shannon Stahl

Shannon Stahl Wins Presidential Green Chemistry Award

(November  2014)

Congratulations to Dr. Shannon Stahl, faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and investigator in the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, on earning the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Winner for academic research.

Monte Helm and Ryan Stolley

Helm and Stolley Comment on Combining Sunlight Harvesters and Catalysts in Nature Chemistry

(November  2014)

Congratulations to Dr. Monte Helm and Dr. Ryan Stolley, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, on having their commentary appear in the November 2014 issue of Nature Chemistry. The journal's editors asked the scientists to write a news and views article on a recent report about the catalytic production of hydrogen from renewable sources.

Morris Bullock Quoted in Prestigious Scientific Journal

(August  2014)

Morris Bullock
Morris Bullock was quoted in the August 8, 2014, issue of the Science.

In the August 8 issue of Science, Dr. Morris Bullock at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is quoted as an outside expert on a new ammonia production method. In the article titled "New Recipe Produces Ammonia from Air, Water, and Sunlight," writer Robert Service covers work at George Washington University that uses a molten mixture of sodium hydroxide and potassium to synthesize ammonia. Bullock is quoted about the significance of the research.

At the national laboratory, Bullock leads the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and American Chemical Society. His work in developing transition metal electrocatalysts earned him the Royal Society of Chemistry's Homogeneous Catalysis Award in 2013.

The need for pushing back the energy frontiers

Frontiers in Energy Research Celebrates EFRCs

Check out the latest newsletter issue

(August  2014)

Check out the current issue of Frontiers in Energy Research and celebrate the outstanding work done at DOE’s Energy Frontier Research Centers. Ryan Stolley from the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, penned the theme article on what it takes to build collaboration at an EFRC and why having younger people on your team is critical. Stolley also wrote about scientists at Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion building devices that take in light across the spectrum, potentially making solar cells more efficient. You can learn about the work being done at different centers, how researchers are finding new ways to talk about science and recent awards.

You can see the entire newsletter at

You can sign up on the lower right corner to get the next issue in your inbox.

Proton binding locations

Building the Ideal Rest Stop for Protons

Determining preferences provides insight into molybdenum complex's ability to produce ammonia precursor

(July  2014)

Where protons decide to rest makes the difference between proceeding toward ammonia production or not, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Villanova University. The team found that subtle differences in complexes with metal centers greatly change where the protons end up.

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer Elected International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science Member

(July  2014)

Congratulations to Prof. Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, on being selected as a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. A world leader in theoretical and computational chemistry, Hammes-Schiffer created a general theoretical formulation for proton-coupled electron transfer reactions that elucidates how protons behave in reactions. She conducts her work as part of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, and in her group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is the Swanlund Professor of Chemistry.

Electromolecular Catalysis Overpotential

Researchers Propose a Common Yardstick to the Efficiency of Molecular Electrocatalysts

Finding a consistent and accurate overpotential description to compare catalytic performance

(June  2014)

In an invited ACS Catalysis Viewpoint paper, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory proposed a way to measure and report the energy efficiency of molecular electrocatalysts, small molecules that quickly convert electrical energy into chemical bonds or break those bonds to release energy. The definition and process they propose is designed to clear up inconsistencies in describing and reporting overpotential, a measure of the catalyst's efficiency. By adhering to a set of uniform procedures and metrics, researchers can consistently compare one catalyst to another.

Morris Bullock

DOE to Renew Energy Frontier Research Center at PNNL

Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis unites experts from many fields to conquer problems in energy production, storage and use

(June  2014)

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory welcomed one of the 32 multi-million dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers announced by DOE this week. The centers are charged with pursuing the scientific underpinnings of various aspects of energy production, storage and use. As a renewal of an EFRC established in 2009, the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis is poised to take on newscientific challenges exploring chemical reactions at the core of technologies such as solar energy and fuel cells.

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Our Mission

Develop a comprehensive understanding of molecular electrocatalysts that efficiently convert electrical energy into chemical bonds in fuels, or the reverse, convert chemical energy from fuels into electrical energy. To learn more about the Energy Frontier Research Centers, visit the Department of Energy's EFRC website.


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