One-step 3-D print­ing of cat­a­lysts

Chemical Industry Digest - - New Developments -


U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy’s Ames Lab­o­ra­tory has de­vel­oped a 3D print­ing process that cre­ates a chem­i­cally ac­tive cat­alytic ob­ject in a sin­gle step. This will help de­velop more ef­fi­cient ways to pro­duce cat­a­lysts for com­plex chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in a wide scope of in­dus­tries.

Cur­rent pro­duc­tion of 3D cat­a­lysts typ­i­cally in­volves var­i­ous meth­ods of de­posit­ing the chem­i­cally ac­tive agents onto pre-printed struc­tures. The Ames Lab­o­ra­tory method com­bines the struc­ture with the chem­istry in only one step us­ing in­ex­pen­sive com­mer­cial 3D print­ers. The struc­tures are de­signed on a com­puter and built di­rectly by shin­ing a laser through a bath of cus­tom­ized resins that poly­mer­ize and har­den layer-by-layer. The fi­nal prod­uct that emerges has cata- lytic prop­er­ties al­ready in­trin­sic to the ob­ject.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers, the monomers, or build­ing blocks are de­signed to be bi­func­tional. They re­act with light to har­den into the three-di­men­sional struc­ture, and still re­tain ac­tive sites for chem­i­cal re­ac­tions to oc­cur. The cat­a­lysts built with this method demon­strated suc­cess in sev­eral re­ac­tions com­mon to or­ganic chem­istry. They are also adapt­able with fur­ther post-pro­cess­ing, mak­ing pos­si­ble multi-step re­ac­tions.

“We can con­trol the shape of the struc­ture it­self, what we call the macroscale fea­tures; and the de­sign of the cat­a­lyst, the nanoscale fea­tures, at the same time,” said Igor Slow­ing, a sci­en­tist in het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis at the U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy’s Ames Lab­o­ra­tory.

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