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A less-expensive way to make platinum catalysts

By Chemical Engineering |

The cost of producing platinum catalysts could be reduced by up to 90% by a process being developed jointly by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL, Livermore, Calif.; www.llnl.gov) and Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.; www.stanford.edu). The process involves the deposition of minute amounts of platinum onto disks of carbon aerogel by a technique called atomic layer deposition (ALD), which permits atomic-level control of film thickness.  The catalyst structure has been tested for conversion of CO to CO2 and achieved nearly 100% conversion efficiency with a platinum content of as little as 0.05 mg/cm2. “We get a very fine dispersion, so a small amount of catalyst can do a lot,” says Juergen Biener, a materials scientist with LLNL. The carbon aerogels, made by sol-gel chemistry, are strong, yet highly porous, with surface areas of up to 3,000 m2 /g. The high surface area allows more of the catalyst to be exposed, notes Biener. In the ALD process, an organic platinum precursor in the vapor phase is deposited on aerogel disks at around 300°C in a nitrogen atmosphere. Biener points out that the process differs from chemical vapor deposition in that the deposition is surface-catalyzed and self-limiting,…
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