Catalytic chemical reactions are essential to the production, conversion, and utilization of chemical fuels. Examples include the reduction of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollutants from automobile exhaust and the synthesis of hydrocarbons from syngas. New ways to decrease the cost of energy-relevant reactions can greatly improve numerous industrial processes including refining and emissions cleanup.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Johns Hopkins University will study the adsorption compression phenomenon for ways to enhance the reaction rate for commercially relevant reactions. Adsorption is the adhesion of molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface, creating layers of the “adsorbate” on the surface of the host material. The Johns Hopkins team will explore the physical state where the forces acting parallel to the surface of adsorbate molecules can in certain conditions be far higher than forces associated with adsorption of additional molecules on the surface. This phenomenon is called adsorption compression. This compression is important because it leads to a strain in intramolecular bonds and can change the activation energy for many chemical reactions – which can alter reaction pathways, increase reactivity, or improve selectivity for desired products. The team plans to explore this phenomenon as a method to improve the efficiency of commercial catalytic systems.