A huge global collaboration led by Prof Shizhang Qiao, an Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Adelaide has created a simple and cost-effective synthesizing method utilizing a 3d printing method to create single atom catalysts (SACs) – potentially paving the way for large-scale industrial production with wide industrial uses.
Throughout the COVID lockdown, the team sent samples to the Australian Synchrotron for analysis of materials with the X ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) beamline.
Catalysts are things which are made to trigger a particular chemical reaction to transform chemicals into various other, much less dangerous industrial products. Frequently, the surface area of a catalyst determines the effectiveness of a certain catalyst in helping the reaction.
A bulk metal cobalt foil, for instance, could help with chemical reductions, though the exact same amount of cobalt atoms in the type of nanoparticles is considerably more effective because of the bigger surface area.
Single- Atomic catalysts (SACs) refer to unique metal atoms which don’t connect into the metallic, but are usually dispersed uniformly on a fixed substrate (such as the carbon) and provide the highest possible value of the atom economy.
For any chemical reaction, the perfect atom economy, referred to as 100 % atom economy, is a process where all the reactant atoms are present in the desired product.
Isolated metal atoms possess unique and innovative chemical and physical characteristics, driving effective and customized catalytic reactions with incredibly high catalytic activity.
Present production methods of wet chemical processes, mechano chemical abrasion, thermal shockwave as well as laser irradiation are, however, deemed complex, expensive and impractical for mass production.
“We have created a synthesis strategy which enables the use of 3d printing to create single-atom catalysts,” it stated. “Our approach has the potential to be less complicated and much more economical than existing methods,’ Qiao said.
For commercial uses, 3d printing enables modification of geometric shapes from millimeters to meters.
A promising but simple method to produce SACs at various scales will be the combination of single-atom catalysts and 3D printing.
“This innovative mixture has got the potential to advance Australia’s status as a world leader in dealing with climate change and help us forge ahead in new methods to make chemical substances which are great for society,” Qiao said.
Bernt Johannessen, likewise a co-author of the paper along with a long time collaborator, performed measurements on the XAS beamline for re-search group throughout several beamtime allocations (and numerous COVID lockdowns).
“we could verify the 3d printing method had created a material composed of isolated single atom websites, instead of clusters or nanoparticles of atoms,” it stated. The instrument enables us to distinguish between cobalt bonds to light components such as carbon as well as cobalt bonds to various other cobalt to create nanoparticles, “Johannessen stated.
“The bigger the clusters, the less reliable they are going to be as single – atom catalysts, therefore confirmation of the isolated nature of singular – atom websites is essential to project conclusions and possible manufacturing applications,” he said.
“The XAS Beamline at ANSTO has been essential to a number of prominent studies in this particular area in the last few years now, and we’re looking forward to seeing the way our user community will continue to grow over the years ahead.”
More information: Fangxi Xie et al, A general approach to 3D-printed single-atom catalysts, Nature Synthesis (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s44160-022-00193-3
The research has been published in Nature Synthesis.