"These transformations will require the development of new models for understanding multiple electron and proton transfer reactions and catalyst design," said Luis Echegoyen, director of NSF's Division of Chemistry.
The center has already obtained significant research results.
Daniel G. Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus professor of energy and professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one of the center's collaborators, recently announced that he and his postdoctoral associate, Matthew W. Kanan, successfully developed a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water.
In use with an electrical conducting glass electrode, the new catalyst, made from the earth-abundant materials cobalt and phosphate, produces oxygen gas from neutral pH water using a relatively low potential at room temperature and pressure (see video).
Even though the catalytic reaction is still not yet fully understood, its discovery moves the center one step closer to reaching its goal of using the sun's energy and water as a renewable energy source.
Nocera's and Kanan's research was published in the July 31, 2008, online issue of the journal Science.
"I strongly support Chemistry's CBC program as a way to tackle grand challenge problems with potentially transformative societal impacts such as sustainable energy. The Nocera work and the 'Powering the Planet' Center is an excellent example of this," said Tony Chan, assistant director for NSF's Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate.
|Contact: Jennifer A. Grasswick|
National Science Foundation