Heterogeneous Catalysis at ORNL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has several projects related to the Heterogeneous Catalysis. The goals of these projects vary from fundamental to applied and span several groups and Divisions at ORNL.
The Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Catalysis group in the Chemical Sciences Division has several projects related to correlating catalytic performance with surface structure and catalyst morphology, especially under reaction conditions. A primary interest focuses on understanding how metals interact synergistically with oxide supports, especially reducible supports, to determine surface chemistry and catalytic pathways. Another area of focus is on oxidation catalysis by Au. Research is conducted on highly dispersed materials under catalytic conditions as well as model surfaces probed by a variety of UHV based techniques.
The Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology group has recognized expertise in the molecular processes of photosynthesis and renewable hydrogen and oxygen production. In addition, the group's facilities and expertise enable characterization of molecules and micro/nano structures by a variety of scanning probe microscopies such as near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), magnetic force microscopy (MFM), electric force microscopy (EFM), and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KFM).
The Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center (FEERC) is a primary research area of the National Transportation Research Center. Work at FEERC is centered on three interrelated areas of research: fuels, engines and emissions. FEERC is a comprehensive laboratory for internal combustion engine technology, specializing in research on paths to higher efficiency, emissions reduction, fuel effects, and emissions chemistry. Three analytical labs in FEERC house flow benches and surface spectroscopy instruments for studies of catalyst kinetics and aging mechanisms. FEERC has examples of a very rare and effective configuration of diffuse reflectance infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) and a well-equipped chemisorption apparatus.
The Physical Chemistry of Materials (PCM) group in the Materials Science & Technology Division. This group conducts both basic and applied research that leads to laboratory prototypes for evaluation. Specific areas of catalysis research include catalyst by design, lean NOx traps, and Urea-SCR.
The Physical Organic Chemistry Group) conducts research on the synthesis, structure, properties, and reactivity of organic chemicals, fuels, polymers, and hybrid materials. An integrated approach is employed involving synthesis (often with isotopic labels), product analysis, determination of reaction kinetics and mechanisms, structural interrogation via spectroscopic methods, and computational methods. Research areas include organometallic chemistry with a focus on new electrocatalysts for the reduction of oxygen to water, heterogeneous photocatalysts for solar energy applications, and hydrogen storage materials. Another area is the surface modification of mesoporous metal oxides such as MCM-41 silica with organic molecules, and examination of pore confinement effects on chemical reactivity.