Scientists Find Nanoscale Process Can Boost Catalytic Performance of Cerium Oxide

By Menahem, Zen | May 20, 2017 07:49 AM EDT

The performance of a renowned key industrial catalyst, cerium oxide, can be improved significantly using a nanoscale processing. The nanoscale process of the cerium oxide involved stretching and compressing, has proven to boost its catalytic performance.

Cerium oxide, or also known as ceria is a chemical powder made by the oxidation process from the rare earth metal of cerium. Ceria is an important catalyst for industry, as the compound is able to store and release oxygen as needed. Recently, scientists from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have found that a nanoscale process of the cerium oxide can boost its performance as the catalyst.

The aforementioned nanoscale process of the cerium oxide includes stretching and compressing at the nano level. The tiny amount of those process is shown to increase the performance greatly, according to the news release from the Stanford University. Cerium oxide is the most common material use as catalytic converters, along with the self-cleaning ovens and the variety of green-energy applications, such as fuel cells and solar water splitters.

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"We discovered that stretching and compressing ceria by a few percent dramatically increases its oxygen storage capacity," said the co-author William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University, explaining the nanoscale process of the cerium oxide. "This finding overturns conventional wisdom about oxide materials and could lead to better catalysts."

In the research, Professor Chueh, who is also the faculty scientist at SLAC, and team strained the cerium oxide between 5.6 percent biaxial compression and 2.1 percent tension. This small nanoscale process of the cerium oxide has proven to increase its enhancement in equilibrium oxygen storage capacity by fourfold. The scientists have published their research on the nanoscale process of the cerium oxide that increases its catalyst function in the journal Nature Communication on May 18.

The lead author of the paper is Chirranjeevi Balaji Gopal, a former postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, along with ten other colleagues. With this research on the nanoscale process of the cerium oxide, the common knowledge of catalytic converters will change. Watch the explanation of catalytic converters below:

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