In a groundbreaking application of operando spectroscopy, a group of scientists hailing from The University of Manchester at Harwell (UoMaH) has joined forces with research teams from Diamond Light Source, University College London, the University of Sheffield, and the Department of Chemistry at The University of Manchester to pioneer a novel method for studying catalysts while they are actively engaged in chemical processes.
This method helps us better understand how catalysts work and how they hold up under real-world conditions. Ultimately, it can assist in creating better catalyst materials. The researchers achieved this breakthrough by creating special setups that allow them to examine solid catalysts in both liquid and gas environments while they’re in action.
Under liquid conditions, they looked closely at isolated Pd (Palladium) sites supported on NiO (Nickel Oxide), which are known to be excellent catalysts for alcohol oxidation. They wanted to understand the nature of these Pd sites and how stable they were during the catalytic reaction. This helped them figure out why the catalyst’s performance decreased over time. They also used a tiny device called a microfluidic device to watch the formation and growth of Pt (Platinum) nanoparticles, which are commonly used in catalysis.
Additionally, theystudied the nature of soluble Fe (Iron) species that resulted from the corrosion of chemical reactors during CO2 capture. Similarly, they conducted operando studies in vapor and gas environments. They learned about the active sites of Nb (Niobium), which play a role in producing pentadiene from biomass. They also observed how the surfaces of Ni (Nickel) nanoparticles changed when capturing CO2 and converting it into CO and methane.
All of this new insight gives scientists a solid foundation for designing better catalysts in the future. It helps them understand catalysts at the nanoscale level, which is crucial for creating more effective catalyst materials.