Tackling Our Energy Challenges in a New Era of Science
Researchers find the key to speeding up the rate of reaction of a potential catalyst for energy storage lies in making the reactive parts of the catalyst move more slowly.
Researchers at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis find the key to speeding up the rate of reaction of a potential catalyst for energy storage lies in making the reactive parts of the catalyst move more slowly.
Transformations: New Initiative in Chemical Transformations, Energy Everywhere, Contradictory Catalyst
Learn about the latest innovations in catalysis. Check out the January 2017 issue of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis' Transformations.
Designer complex reduces obstacles in creating solar fuels
Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that a complex with a proton pathway and stabilized by outer coordination sphere interactions is reversible for hydrogen production/oxidation at room temperature and pressure.
Fellows are selected for achievements that advance science and its applications
Congratulations to Dr. Morris Bullock, Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis and member of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, on being elected to the rank of fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Transformations: Fundamental Catalysis Enabling Zero-Carbon-Footprint Future, Scale-up of Aviation Biofuels from Alcohols, Five Cents about Nickel Catalysts
The August issue of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis' Transformations recognizes innovation in catalysis. The lead item describes the potential of catalysis to enable a zero-carbon-footprint future. Also featured is the latest work on aviation biofuels by PNNL and industry partner LanzaTech.
The story's plotline could solve other mysteries around generating electricity without fossil fuels
It's the worst short story ever written: on a dark and stormy night; the end. The real story -- the context, the tension, and the motivations -- are missing. That's what it feels like for scientists reading the reaction that uses a cobalt catalyst to produce hydrogen. Dr. Eric Wiedner and Dr. Morris Bullock at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory wanted to know the rest of the story. They found out what happened between the first page and the last.
Morris Bullock was quoted in the June 13, 2016, issue of Chemical and Engineering News.
In the June 13 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, Dr. Morris Bullock at Pacific Northwest National laboratory is quoted as an outside expert. In the article titled "Chemists announce the end of the innocence for cyclopentadienyl," writer Stephen K. Ritter covers research by two groups that show the ligand cyclopentadienyl is reactive, suggesting new opportunities for catalyst design. Bullock is quoted at the end of the article 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's Office of Science. 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.
Lessons from nature inspire breakthrough in catalyzing electricity from renewable energy
Researchers at PNNL have demonstrated that stored renewable energy can be interconverted efficiently and inexpensively by mimicking enzymatic catalysts used in biological processes. This new catalyst actually performs best in water and at temperatures and acidities remarkably similar to conditions found in hydrogen fuel cells.
Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and ten other labs had their work featured in a special issue of ACS Catalysis. Their efforts have clarified basic scientific principles, funded by DOE's Office of Science, and have resolved issues for biofuels, emission control, fuel cells, and more, funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The peer-reviewed online publication features ten articles by PNNL scientists and their university collaborators.
Computational methods and experimental techniques reveal important design principles for future nickel catalysts
Platinum is a good catalyst, but it costs ~$950 an ounce. Nickel, whose market price of less than $4 a pound, is an attractive option, but it doesn’t pack the same punch. Two Energy Frontier Research Centers are helping nickel muscle its way to center stage of fuel production. Read more in this article which first appeared in Frontiers in Energy Research.
Combining 4 well-known reactions precisely predicts how well a catalyst performs
High efficiency is the goal when using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen (a fuel) and oxygen. Catalysts are the workhorses that accomplish this conversion, but in some cases, scientists haven't had an easy way to know if a catalyst is living up to its potential. Methods are well established for calculating that potential when the catalyst is in water, but not when in other solvents. Scientists have found a way to bridge this gap. With just four reactions, the team showed how much energy each catalyst could use if it worked perfectly. This work was done through the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center.
Phosphorus atoms help drive metal to form ammonia, adding insights to turning renewable energy to fuel
At the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, scientists showed what it takes to make long-overlooked chromium help form ammonia; this work is a critical step in controlling a reaction that could store electrons from intermittent wind and solar stations in use-any-time fuels.
New topographical map shows the energy hills and valleys involved in turning electrons into fuel
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.
Review highlights molecular-level work involved in creating a design guide for catalysts for use of sustainable energy
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.
Researchers use materials free of precious metals to speed the troubling side of the fuel cell reaction
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.
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.