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A chemist from RUDN University came up with a new catalyst for fuel synthesis

A chemist from RUDN University came up with a new catalyst for fuel synthesis

RUDN chemist synthesized a fundamentally new catalyst for formic acid photo‑oxidation, which is considered to be the most perspective source of hydrogen for fuel elements. A catalyst based on titanium amorphous oxide is a new instrument for formic acid conversion. In the future, it will allow to abandon traditional costly catalysts based on palladium, platinum, and ruthenium.

Hydrogen energetics development is not possible without methods of hydrogen secure storage and generation. Formic acid is a non-toxic and highly stable source of hydrogen. Н2 and СО2 are obtained by decomposition of acid under light irradiation on catalysts’NPs, the role of which is fulfilled by platinum, palladium, and other costly metals compounds. Chemists decided to test what the products of formic acid photo‑oxidation will be obtained if the cheaper layered amorphous oxide of titanium is used as a catalyst.

Professor Rafael Luque, United Institute of Chemical Research RUDN and his colleagues from Iran, Spain, China, and South Korea synthesized a catalyst — titanium amorphous oxide based on organic-silicate matrix. At the beginning the chemists obtained mesoporous (2-50 nm) matrix material, where bridging dimeric groups of organic viologen compound presented. Later the precursor — titanium butoxide was loaded, followed by matrix drying at 60 о С and its transformation into amorphous titanium oxide.

The chemists performed the reaction of formic acid oxidation in different conditions: different temperature regimes (from 25 to 60о С) and different quantity of catalyst from amorphous titanium oxide (from 5 to 20 mg), with different solvents (water, ethanol, methanol, and others). The results of experiments showed that the quickest reaction proceeds under UV radiation, in water and at room temperature, providing only CО2 and Н2О. Neither hydrogen, nor carbon monoxide, which poison any photo‑oxidation catalyst, were identified in products. Such products formation is due to the catalyst’s non-crystalline structure. In their work the authors came up with the photo-oxidation mechanism and specified basic stages.

The authors also found out that viologens improve the quality of catalyst, because it generates electron-proton vapors in photocatalysis, thus extending the lifetime of the catalyst. The catalyst can be easily reprocessed and reused at least in four cycles without noticeable ageing.

The scientists made an input in fundamental chemistry development, having investigated a new mechanism of formic acid formation. The results of the present research will allow to minimize risks and expenditures in common use of this type of catalyst in future development.

The article is published in the journal ChemCatChem.

Main Publications View all
15 Nov 2017
RUDN University scientists publish results of their scientific researches in highly-recognized in whole world and indexed in international databases journals (Web of Science, Scopus ect.). That, of course, corresponds to the high status of the University and its international recognition. Publications of June-September 2017 ( In Journals of categories Q1-Q3)
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International scientific cooperation View all
03 Nov 2017
The main goal of the RUDN University and UNISDR Office for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction at Incheon (UNISDR ONEA-GETI) cooperation is to obtain knowledge about disaster risk reduction and international experience in this area for creating training courses for basic and additional professional education in RUDN
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30 Dec
Biologists from RUDN University discovered the secret of flaxseed oil with long shelf life

Biologists from RUDN University working together with their colleagues from the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Flax studied the genes that determine the fatty acid composition in flaxseed oil and identified polymorphisms in six of them. The team also found out what gene variations could extend the shelf life of flaxseed oil. This data can be used to improve the genetic selection of new flax breeds. The results were published in the BMC Plant Biology journal.

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11 Oct
Mowing Is More Harmful to Soil Than Grazing

A team of biologists analyzed soil samples from a pasture and a regularly mowed meadow and found out that grazing lets more carbon get into the soil than mowing. This, in turn, improves the carbon cycle and makes microorganisms more efficient.

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11 Oct
Soil scientists suggest method for remediating urban garden soils contaminated with lead and arsenic

The soils of urban gardens and vegetable patches contain a lot of toxicants (including lead and arsenic) in high concentrations which can be harmful to the health of children and people with chronic diseases. A team of soil scientists from RUDN University suggested a remediation method developed based on data collected in a garden of Brooklyn (NY, U.S.).

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