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Artistic representation of rotor in NMR

Teaching Reactions How to Navigate

New topographical map shows the energy hills and valleys involved in turning electrons into fuel

(November  2015)

When starting out on a new adventure, it helps to have a map, allowing you to determine how to best spend your time and energy along the way. The same is true for chemical reactions. Without understanding the steps involved, reactions can end up on energy-wasting backroads or creating toxic wastes. Unfortunately, few reaction maps exist because of the expertise needed to chart all the possible paths. At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists mapped areaction that turns wind-generated electricity into fuel and the amount of energy needed for each step.


Shoving Protons Around

Review highlights molecular-level work involved in creating a design guide for catalysts for use of sustainable energy

(September  2015)

In an invited review of research by the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, Dr. Morris Bullock and Dr. Monte Helm at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed how shoving protons can enable iron and nickel to replace platinum in catalysts, providing a less expensive and more readily available base for sustainable storage of renewable energy.

Artistic representation of two metal-free catalysts

Two Great Catalysts that Work Great Together

Researchers use materials free of precious metals to speed the troubling side of the fuel cell reaction

(August  2015)

Replacing technologies that use fossil fuel with ones that use rare metals -- that's part of the problem for fuel cells. The cells use hydrogen generated at solar and wind stations to produce electricity. But, the cells require platinum to speed the reactions. Scientists at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have found another way. By combining two simple, inexpensive, metal-free catalysts, they sped the cell's slower reaction.

Model of a zeolite

Energy in Chemical Bonds and the Plant-Pollution Connection

PNNL scientists share fundamental insights in energy and atmospheric science at ACS National Meeting

(August  2015)

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be honored and present new work at the 250th American Chemical Society national meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, Aug. 16-20.

Wind energy

How to Store Sunlight on a Tight Energy Budget: Add More Protons

The reaction to convert solar energy to fuel is 50 times faster with a simple change in the solvent used

(August  2015)

For catalysts, the environment matters. Packing in protons and water lets a hydrogen-producing catalyst work 50 times faster than the previous record holder, according to scientists at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, which is led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This discovery provides another page to the design guidelines for super-fast catalysts to turn intermittent sunlight into fuels.

Wendy Shaw and Monte Helm

Researchers Ace Hydrogenase at PNNL-Led Workshop

(August  2015)

Before they can power your car, hydrogen fuel cells need an efficiency boost. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists Dr. Wendy Shaw and Dr. Monte Helm led an invitation-only workshop at the Telluride Science Research Center on hydrogenase mimics, which catalyze hydrogen production and use for fuel cells.

American Chemical Society video opening screen

The Story Behind ACS Winners Daniel DuBois, Morris Bullock, and the Hydrogen Catalysis Team

Interview with Chris Jones, Editor-in-Chief of ACS Catalysis, shows what it takes to control protons

(August  2015)

Congratulations to the Hydrogen Catalysis Team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on receiving the 2015 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science. Check out the video interview with Chris Jones, an American Chemical Society Editor-in-Chief, to learn what it took for the team to elucidate the design rules of one of the decade's great catalysis breakthroughs.

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.

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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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