From biofuels to plastics, the majority of the products we depend on in our everyday lives rely on catalysts. An estimate from the American Chemical Society found that catalysts and catalytic processes are responsible for more than 20 percent of America’s gross domestic product.
The powerful economic and environmental realities surrounding catalysts have made them a main target of Argonne research. Many laboratory scientists, as well as their partners in industry and academia, are devoted to the search for improved catalysts. As competition for scarce energy supplies increases, our future depends on finding new catalytic technologies that pave the way for new and more efficient sources of energy and energy storage, as well as environmental remediation.
Argonne’s research in catalysis explores the scientific principles that enable the identification of the elementary steps and kinetics of catalytic reactions; the construction of catalytic sites at the atomic level; the study of structure-reactivity relationships of inorganic, organic, or hybrid catalytic materials in solution or supported on solids; the dynamics of catalyst structure relevant to catalyst stability; and the development of theory, modeling, and simulation of catalytic pathways. Argonne also has a high-throughput research facility that allows scientists to synthesize and screen large numbers of compounds and quickly optimize their reaction or process conditions, reducing the time and cost of materials development.
Argonne is also devoted to the synthesis of novel materials with particular structures, properties, or behaviors as well as the development of a better understanding of the physical phenomena that underpin the creation of various materials. Argonne researchers seek to prepare materials at the molecular and even the atomic scale. Argonne researchers deliver synthesis and processing capabilities that enable the manipulation of individual spin, charge, and atomic configurations to better understand the basis of materials properties.