It has been a persistent challenge for scientists and engineers who study catalysts to correlate active catalytic regions with overall morphology in heterogeneous catalyst beds. It has also been a challenge to monitor the multistep reactions that take place within the beds. This has hampered the design of catalytic reactors that give optimal performances.
Says Burt, Our MRI/NMR technique provides the ability to directly measure the spatial dependence of conversion and allows one to do a reality check on any simulations or assumptions used to design a catalytic reactor. Design can therefore become an iterative process that converges on an optimal performance.
The costs of researching and developing new catalysts can be very expensive, and the parahydrogen-enhanced MRI/NMR technique developed by Pines, Bouchard, Burt and their collaborators has the potential to significantly reduce these costs, as well as substantially speed up the process. Not only does it allow future studies of potential catalysts to be carried out on a smaller and more economical scale, it is also well-suited for green chemistry, the new approach that seeks to maximize productivity and yield while minimizing costs, amounts of reactants and waste products.
Pines, Bouchard and Burt say their technique is ready to be used in the study of hydrogenation reactions now. In the future, they would like to extend its applications beyond hydrogenation to study other types of catalysts and chemical reactions.
Says Bouchard, We also have new ideas on how to get high-resolution temperature and pressure maps of the catalyst bed that will convey information about the energetics of the chemical reaction and mechanics of fluid transport during the reaction.
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory