Methane Combustion: More Efficient Catalyst Found

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Structure of the methane combustion catalyst. Photo by J. J. Delgado Jaén and M. Cargnello.

Innovative Approach to Methane Gas Catalyst

Prof. Paolo Fornasiero, one of the leading scientists of this project, explains the innovative approach employed in this research.

Professor Fornasiero told Decoded Science, “Like  today’s most active catalysts employed for CH4  combustion, our material was made of palladium (Pd), combined with cerium oxide (CeO2). The difference, however, was in the structure. Normally Pd is deposited on CeO2 surface; in our case, we made what is called a core-shell structure. Basically, we had Pd nanoparticles (core) covered with a porous layer of CeO2 (shell). Very importantly, the nanoparticles were subsequently deposited on an appropriate and stable alumina substrate.”

The picture on the side shows the structure of the catalyst, with the Pd core (blue) and the CeO2 shell (green and red).

Although the core-shell method is well known, and already employed for other applications, it was the first time it was used to prepare a catalyst for this reaction.

Methane Gas Combustion: Exceptional Activity

Researchers performed tests to determine the effect of the catalysts prepared with this method on methane combustion, and the results showed an exceptional activity. There was, in fact, a complete reaction at only 400 oC, a temperature much lower than the ones normally necessary for methane combustion. Moreover, the catalyst was stable – even when heated at high temperatures: tests showed that the material was still active after heat treatment at 850 oC for up to 12 hours.

Green Energy? Incredible Potentials For Methane Fuel

According to Professor Fornasiero, these catalysts have an enormous potential. He told Decoded Science, “They work 30 times better than the systems developed until now. They improve the efficiency of the combustion; hence more energy can be generated with lower emissions of pollutants and/or greenhouse gases. The use of significantly lower temperatures also has important implications. These catalysts could be used in many different applications, from home heating to industrial processes.

The use of the new catalyst developed by these researchers to improve the methane combustion process could be the answer improving environmental impact of energy use around the world.

Resources

M. Cargnello et al. Exceptional Activity for Methane Combustion over Modular [email protected]2 Subunits on Functionalized Al2O3. (2012). Science, 337(6095), 713-717. Accessed August 22, 2012.

Environmental Protection Agency. Methane. Accessed August 2012.

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