Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Improving efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

Date:
June 28, 2012
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Engineering researchers have made a major breakthrough in developing a catalyst used during chemical reactions in the production of gasoline, plastics, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost-savings in these multibillion-dollar industries.

The research team built their prototype of the new catalyst using ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets. They used a unique process to encourage growth of these nanosheets at 90-degree angles, similar to building a house of cards.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota engineering researchers are leading an international team that has made a major breakthrough in developing a catalyst used during chemical reactions in the production of gasoline, plastics, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost-savings in these multibillion-dollar industries.

The research is to be published in the June 29, 2012 issue of the leading scientific journal Science.

"The impact of this new discovery is enormous," said the team's lead researcher Michael Tsapatsis, a chemical engineering and materials science professor in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. "Every drop of gasoline we use needs a catalyst to change the oil molecules into usable gasoline during the refining process."

This research improves efficiencies by giving molecules fast access to the catalysts where the chemical reactions occur. Tsapatsis compared it to our use of freeways and side streets in our daily lives.

"It's faster and more efficient to use freeways to get where we want to go and exit to do our business compared to driving the side streets the entire way," he explained. "The catalysts used today are more like all side streets. Molecules move slowly and get stuck. The efficiencies of these new catalysts could lower the costs of gasoline and other products for all of us."

The research team built their prototype of the new catalyst using highly optimized ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets. They used a unique process to encourage growth of these nanosheets at 90-degree angles, similar to building a house of cards. The house-of-cards arrangement of the nanosheets makes the catalyst faster, more selective and more stable, but can be made at the same cost (or possibly cheaper) than traditional catalysts.

With faster catalysts available at no extra cost to the producer, production per manufacturing dollar will increase. With a higher output, it is conceivable that consumer costs will drop.

This new discovery builds upon previous discoveries at the University of Minnesota of ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets used as specialized molecular sieves for production of both renewable and fossil-based fuels and chemicals. These discoveries, licensed by the new Minnesota start-up company Argilex Technologies, are key components of the company's materials-based platform. The development of the new catalyst is complete, and the material is ready for customer testing.

"This breakthrough can have a major impact on both the conversion of natural gas to higher value chemicals and fuels, and on bio- and petroleum refiners," said Cesar Gonzalez, CEO of Argilex Technologies. "Using catalysts made by this novel approach, refiners will be able to obtain a higher yield of desirable products such as gasoline, diesel, ethylene and propylene. At Argilex, we envision this catalyst technology platform to become a key contributor to efficient use of natural resources and improved economics of the world's largest industries."

Researchers on the team are from around the globe. In addition to the University of Minnesota, researchers are from institutions in Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, Korea and Sweden.

Primary funding for this research is from the U.S. Department of Energy's Center for Catalysis and Energy Innovation, an Energy Frontier Research Center. The University of Minnesota is a partner in this multi-institutional research center at the University of Delaware. Other funding for this research is from the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Program, the University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, and the Abu Dhabi-Minnesota Institute for Research Excellence (ADMIRE) partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. X. Zhang, D. Liu, D. Xu, S. Asahina, K. A. Cychosz, K. V. Agrawal, Y. Al Wahedi, A. Bhan, S. Al Hashimi, O. Terasaki, M. Thommes, M. Tsapatsis. Synthesis of Self-Pillared Zeolite Nanosheets by Repetitive Branching. Science, 2012; 336 (6089): 1684 DOI: 10.1126/science.1221111

Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Improving efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628193026.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2012, June 28). Improving efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628193026.htm
University of Minnesota. "Improving efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628193026.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins