Jump to content

Tuning Graphite for Better Catalysts


Recommended Posts

Catalysts are very important materials as they make some nearly impossible chemical reactions possible. Typically though, the catalysts used in various devices on a day to day basis require rare and expensive materials like platinum. Finding ways to replicate these catalysts while reducing costs has been a major goal of many researchers, and now those at MIT and Berkeley Lab have created a new kind of catalyst that may just achieve that goal.

An essential ingredient for many chemical reactions is energy, and some reactions can require a lot of energy to convert the ingredients to the final products. What a catalyst does is add intermediary steps that require less energy to complete, and in the end the catalyst remains, ready for more reactions. By tuning the catalyst it is possible to improve its performance and make it more selective, but the kind of catalysts that can be tuned also tend to be fragile and difficult to process into a device. This is why the more durable, but rarer catalysts, like platinum, are used, but the MIT researchers have discovered how to make graphite into a tunable catalyst. What they have done is found a way to chemically alter the surface of the graphene sheets that make up graphite, in order to tune its properties.

As graphite is already a kind of universal electrode, producing it and adding it to devices is going to be easy and cheap. The chemistry the researchers used is also well understood and can be scaled up, making this a potentially ideal, tunable catalyst. Applications include converting carbon dioxide into fuels and fuel cells.

Source: MIT

Back to original news post

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


  • Create New...