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Three-dimensional cluster-based catalysts

Miniscule cluster-like catalyst powders developed and tested with EU funding promise improved selectivity and specificity in a number of industrially relevant reactions.

Industrial Technologies

Catalysts are critical to a plethora of industrially relevant reactions. These chemical matchmakers bring molecules together for faster reaction rates and/or higher product yields without being used up in the reaction. Thus, they can do their jobs again and again. Sometimes, lack of selectivity results in additional products other than the desired ones. These end products must go through filtration or purification steps with reduced overall yield and reaction efficiency. Novel model catalysts require testing under practical reaction conditions to evaluate performance. EU-funding of the project 'Nanoengineering of model catalysts based on supported, size-selected nanoclusters' (CLUSTERCAT) accomplished just that. Scientists produced novel three-dimensional nanocluster catalysts and correlated structure and function through exploitation of advanced experimental and analytical techniques. Cluster size was precisely controlled using a radio frequency magnetron sputtering cluster beam source. Immobilised planar nanoclusters were then diced to produce cluster-based powders. Researchers investigated their structures and function and correlated the two with advanced techniques. For the first time chemical performance of powder-supported size-selected nanoclusters was explored using high-pressure chemical reactors. CLUSTERCAT investigators created novel, well-controlled model cluster-based catalyst powders exhibiting size-dependent reactivity and selectivity under realistic reaction conditions. These nanostructured catalysts could open the door to more energy- and cost-efficient chemical processes for the sectors such as energy, pharmaceuticals and the environment.

Keywords

Catalyst powders, selectivity, specificity, yield, efficiency, nanocluster, magnetron sputtering, high-pressure chemical reactor

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