SSF program:
Catalysts Functionalized for Demanding Environments

Technical processes that rely on catalytically active coatings are essential for modern-day society. The yearly production of chemicals and refined petroleum products by heterogeneous catalysts is a billion dollar industry. Emission control is another field where catalytic techniques play a crucial role. The need to develop catalytic materials with enhanced functionality for exhaust abatement is emphasized by the increasingly stricter legislations as set by various governmental bodies worldwide.

Technical catalysts are generally realized as high surface-area coatings (often alumina) functionalized with precious metal nano-particles or clusters. Although adequate, the detailed atomistic processes responsible for the catalyst function are usually unknown. This issue is present as catalysts generally operate at atmospheric or higher pressures and at high temperatures, restricting the possible methods that can be used for in situ monitoring of atomistic processes. For the same reason, a thorough characterization of size, shape and composition of the dispersed metal phase is difficult. An additional complexity arises as the catalytically active phase is frequently only stable under reaction conditions and may, furthermore, vary with gas composition. As atomic structure determines materials properties, the lack of such information presently hinders efficient formulations of new catalysts.

In the SSF program “Catalysts functionalized for Demanding Environments (FUNCAT)”, we develop a methodology for rational design of advanced catalytic coatings using the recent advances within in situ surface structure characterization, experiments on monolith or powder catalysts and theoretical modeling. The program is a joint effort between the Competence Centre for Catalysis at Chalmers (KCK) and the Department of Synchrotron Radiation Research at Lund University. The program started in January 2010 and runs for three years.

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