Tackling Our Energy Challenges in a New Era of Science
Dr. R. Morris Bullock
Dr. Morris Bullock at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is quoted in Chemistry World, the Royal Society of Chemistry's magazine. In the article, "Base metal catalysts strike hydrogenation gold," writer Andy Extance discusses three new studies about iron and other earth-abundant catalysts. These metals could replace precious metals, such as rhodium and palladium, which offer cost and toxicity challenges. Bullock highlights the value these catalysts present to reactions responsible for creating pharmaceuticals and producing energy.
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 has earned him the Royal Society of Chemistry's Homogeneous Catalysis Award in 2013.
Congratulations to Dr. Morris Bullock, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, on having his Perspective article appear in the November 29 issue of Science, a highly respected journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A Perspective is an invited opinion piece that covers recent findings. In his article, Bullock discusses advances in using iron and other earth-abundant metals for catalysts in organic synthesis and other applications. These metals are needed to replace precious metals, such as ruthenium and platinum, which present cost and toxicity challenges. Bullock discusses three recent studies that describe on iron or cobalt catalysts with impressive activities and selectivities, comparable to, or exceeding, conventional precious metal catalysts.
Congratulations to Vanda Glezakou, B. Peter McGrail, Yeohoon Yoon, Ming-Hsun Ho, Shentan Chen, Roger Rousseau, Michel Dupuis, R. Morris Bullock, and Simone Raugei for their outstanding contributions in Applications of Molecular Modeling to Challenges in Clean Energy. These scientists contributed chapters to the 245-page book, published by the American Chemical Society. The peer-reviewed book focuses on using computational modeling to answer fundamental questions in catalysis, biofuels, and other sustainable solutions. Niranjan Govind and George Fitzgerald at Accelrys, Inc. organized the ACS symposium and edited the book. In addition, Vanda Glezakou provided the artwork that graces the book's cover. The image, based on her work and that of H. Todd Schaef, depicts the potential of carbonate minerals to remove sulfur dioxide, a troubling compound in the quest for clean energy. The image was created by Cortland Johnson.
Congratulations to Dr. Morris Bullock, director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center led by PNNL, on being selected as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Chemistry, the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Bullock was recognized for his "significant contributions to the chemical sciences" and for winning the Society's 2013 Homogeneous Catalysis award earlier this year.
Earth-abundant metal at heart of material that creates 170,000 molecules a second
Solar power is not a large part of our nation's energy grid, in part because of its intermittent nature and the challenges involved in storing the energy. One option is to combine the electrons generated with protons and create molecular hydrogen. The hydrogen stores the energy for later use. Catalysts are needed to drive this reaction, and this study shows how to design proton relays that achieve fast, energy-efficient materials able to work in water. Designed at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a nickel-based catalyst quickly produces hydrogen molecules in solutions with 75 percent water, producing up to 170,000 hydrogen molecules per second.
Congratulations to Prof. Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, on being selected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A world leader in theoretical and computational chemistry, Hammes-Schiffer studies proton-coupled electron transfer reactions at the Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences. She is the Swanlund Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Established 150 years ago by President Abraham Lincoln, the National Academy of Sciences is an official adviser to our nation's government, upon request, in any matter of science or engineering. This prestigious organization furthers science through the election of its members and through original research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Given two catalysts for the job of turning intermittent wind or solar energy into chemical fuels, scientists chose the material that gets the job done quickly and uses the least energy. A catalyst that quickly produces fuel but uses far more energy than it stores won't get the job. Scientists could measure the overpotential in water but not in other liquids, until Dr. Morris Bullock and Dr. John Roberts devised a quick, elegant technique. This work was done at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by DOE's Basic Energy Sciences.
Scientists at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis demonstrated that matching the proton source's pKa to that of a nickel-based catalyst speeds the conversion of electricity to hydrogen bonds dramatically. Turning electricity into chemical bonds and vice versa is necessary to capture intermittent renewable energy as use-any-time fuel. The Center is an Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, and is led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Transformations Presents Catalysis and Sustainable Energy
The latest issue of Transformations shows the role of catalysts in making wind, solar and other sustainable energy sources a major part of the nation's energy landscape. Dr. Dan DuBois, Deputy Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, shares the three principles involved in creating electrocatalysts, which drive the interconversion of electricity to energy stored in chemical bonds. Learn about this research and much more at the American Chemical Society symposium being held in his honor. Applied and fundamental scientists talk about the power of theory or computational chemistry to break chemistry bottlenecks and settle basic energy questions. Don't miss the latest video – featuring the Center's Dr. Monte Helm and Dr. Morris Bullock.
Given his scientific successes and caring personality, the opportunities to speak at the 1.5-day symposium honoring the career of Dr. Dan DuBois, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, filled quickly. The event honors DuBois American Chemical Society's Award in Inorganic Chemistry. Dr. Aaron Appel and Dr. Monte Helm at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with Dr. Jenny Yang at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, organized the symposium.
Scientists at Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis based at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a fast and efficient iron-based catalyst that splits hydrogen gas to make electricity -- necessary to make fuel cells more economical.
By grafting features analogous to those in Mother Nature's catalysts onto a synthetic catalyst, scientists created a hydrogen production catalyst that is 40% faster than the unmodified catalyst. This study provides foundational information that could, one day, help design and synthesize the catalysts for hydrogen production for fuels, long-lasting electric car batteries, and energy storage from solar and wind farms.
Proton delivery and removal determines if a well-studied catalyst takes its highly productive form or twists into a less useful structure, according to scientists at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center based at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The catalyst takes two protons and forms molecular hydrogen, or it can split the hydrogen. The team showed that the most productive isomer, endo/endo, has the key nitrogen-hydrogen bonds pushed close to the nickel center. If the catalyst is in the endo/endo form, the reaction occurs in a fraction of a second. If the catalyst is stuck in another form, the reaction takes days to complete.
Moving four relatively large protons to where they are needed is easier if you build a path, as is being done by scientists at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis. The research team has built two iron-based compounds that help protons move from the exterior to where they are needed. Once delivered, the protons bond with molecular oxygen and create water. In previous compounds, the protons often don't arrive in time or go to the wrong place, which leads to forming the unwanted byproduct hydrogen peroxide. The new compounds direct the protons in ways that help separate the two oxygen atoms in O2, and thereby drive the reaction to completion.