One-step 3-D printing of catalysts
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.