High-Per­for­mance Noble Metal Free Cat­a­lysts

Chemical Industry Digest - - New Developments -

Re­searchers at Ruhr-Univer­sität Bochum (RUB) and MaxPlanck-In­sti­tut für Eisen­forschung have de­vel­oped an al­loy made up of five el­e­ments that is noble met­al­free and as ac­tive as plat­inum. Non­no­ble el­e­ments and their al­loys usu­ally have lesser cat­alytic prop­er­ties than those of no­bel el­e­ments. This de­vel­op­ment of one al­loy made up of five al­most equally bal­anced com­po­nents of­fer much bet­ter prop­er­ties. This is be­cause of the so-called high en­tropy ef­fect which re­sults in cat­alytic ac­tiv­ity for an oxy­gen re­duc­tion that is sim­i­lar to that of plat­inum. By op­ti­mis­ing the com­po­si­tion fur­ther, they suc­cess­fully im­proved the over­all ac­tiv­ity.

Dur­ing the search for an al­ter­na­tive to plat­inum, re­searchers at the RUB Chair of Ma­te­ri­als for Mi­crotech­nol­ogy headed by Pro­fes­sor Al­fred Lud­wig de­ployed a spe­cial method to gen­er­ate an al­loy nanopar­ti­cle li­brary of five source el­e­ments. Their atoms blend in plasma and form nanopar­ti­cles in a sub­strate of ionic liq­uid. The liq­uid is placed in small cav­i­ties on a car­rier. If the nanopar­ti­cles are lo­cated in the vicin­ity of the re­spec­tive atom source, the per­cent­age of atoms from that source is higher in the re­spec­tive par­ti­cle. In the cen­tre of the car­rier, all five el­e­ments are present in more or less equal quan­ti­ties. This com­bi­na­to­rial process en­abled the re­searchers to pre­cisely con­trol the com­po­si­tion of the al­loy nanopar­ti­cles any­where in the ma­te­rial li­brary.

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