Sweeping advances in the synthesis and characterization of new and complex nanomaterials have been made in the past decades, buoyed by the launch of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2000. Scientists and engineers have made great strides in using atomic precision to create new materials and manipulate existing ones.
One of the most exciting developments in this field is the fabrication of nanostructured solid catalysts that can be applied in the large-scale production of fuels and chemicals. “Although catalysis in the presence of these materials is usually demonstrated by observing the chemical transformation of reactants into products, the nature of the active site, and therefore a quantitative evaluation of a site-specific reaction rate, remains elusive because of the complexity of the material,” writes Robert Davis (Univ. of Virginia) in the November AIChE Journal Perspective article.
In many cases, catalyst discovery has outpaced the understanding of catalyst function. According to Davis, this can inhibit optimization and commercialization of these catalysts. In his Perspective, he describes recent advances in the use of transient kinetic methods to evaluate reaction rates, measure intrinsic reaction kinetics, and identify active sites on nanostructured catalysts — the keys to...
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