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Friday, January 21, 2005

Nanocatalyst Discovery

More big nanonews, this may be the biggest news in the catalyst industry since the discovery of metallocenes.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Munich have found evidence of electrical charging of a nano-sized catalyst. This has the potential to substantially lower plastics manufacturing costs.

Studying nano-sized clusters of gold on a magnesium oxide surface, scientists found nanoparticulate gold to The research will appear in the 21 January, 2005, issue of the journal

The study finds that gold nanoclusters Au(8) to Au(24) are a very effective catalyst. The gold clusters to take on a highly reactive three-dimensional structure which removes an electron taking on a slight negative charge and subsequently transfers the electron to the reacting molecules, weakening the chemical bonds that keep them together and lowering the energy required for the reaction.

"It is possible to tune the catalytic process not only by changing the composition of the materials, but also by changing the cluster’s size atom by atom," explained Ueli Heiz, professor of chemistry at Technical University Munich.

"And all this happens at low temperatures," said Heiz. Typically, reactions requiring catalysts need heat or pressure to get the reaction going, and that adds to the cost of manufacturing, but that isn’t the case here. Since the properties of the catalytic beds can increase the rate of reactions for nanocatalysts, new and better low-temperature catalysts may be found.

In 1991, Exxon first introduced its Exxpol catalysts and produced metallocene-based polymers, the metallocene polymer market is now a multibillion dollar industry. For a good background on metallocene’s you can look

I don’t know that these catalysts are ready for prime time, it is still lab scale and theoretical, but if I had a couple million bucks worth of VC money I would probably be looking for a nanostart coming out of Georgia Tech with the rights to this discovery.


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