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Nanostructured carbons for catalysis and hydrogen storage – A Janus material

Johannes H. Bitter 

Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, Utrecht 3584CA, Netherlands


Nanostructured carbons, e.g. carbon nanotubes (CNT) and carbon nanofibers (CNF) have some prominent advantages as catalyst or catalyst support compared to active carbons. Nanostructured carbons are pure, are graphitic with a high surface area, can be prepared as macroscopic strong bodies, are inert and their surface chemistry can be used to tune their behavior as a catalyst or catalyst support. In this presentation I will show that as a result of this these materials are real Janus materials i.e, on one hand the materials are excellent suited to perform fundamental catalytic studies on the other hand the physical and catalytic properties of catalysts based on nanostructured carbons are such that an application might be in reach. In the presentation I will show that CNF bodies can be obtained with a high bulk density (0.9 g/ml) and a high bulk crushing strength (1.2 MPa) which is beneficial for their use as a catalyst support. Key parameters were the metal loading of the growth catalyst and the duration of growth. Nanostructured carbon can be made active for base catalyzed reactions by replacing part of the carbon atoms by nitrogen (NCNT). In the presentation it will be shown that the activity of NCNT for a Knoevenagel condensation is related to the amount of pyridinic nitrogen incorporated in the NCNT structure which could be tuned by the synthesis parameters of the catalyst. The inertness of CNF makes them eminently suitable for fundamental catalytic studies. Here we will elaborate on the effect of particle size on the hydrogen storage properties of sodium alanate nanoparticles. It will be shown that the hydrogen desorption temperatures and activation energies decreased from 186 °C and 116 kJ.mol-1 for 1-10 μm alanate particles to 70 °C and 58 kJ.mol 1 for 1-10 nm alanate particles. In addition, decreasing particle sizes lowered the onset pressures needed for reloading to 10 bar; one of the lowest values reported sofar.


Auxiliary resources (full texts, presentations, posters, etc.)
  1. PRESENTATION: Nanostructured carbons for catalysis and hydrogen storage - A Janus material, Microsoft Office Document, 0MB

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Related papers

Presentation: Invited oral at E-MRS Fall Meeting 2008, Symposium D, by Johannes H. Bitter
See On-line Journal of E-MRS Fall Meeting 2008

Submitted: 2008-05-17 20:49
Revised:   2009-06-07 00:48