Catalysts Impact Chemical Reactions
Key to understanding nano technology is grasping the underlying concepts of how catalysts - and their surface area – impact chemical reactions by reducing the required activation energy. Because catalysts make chemical reactions happen faster, the higher the surface area of the catalyst, the faster the chemical reaction.
QSI's advanced catalysts have superior properties including their spherical shape, oxide layer, and very large surface area. This translates into greater efficiency in the generation, storage, and use of energy.
In addition to speeding up certain chemical reactions, catalysts also can be used to alter the temperature and pressure at which various thermal and electro-chemical reactions take place and, thus, make them more efficient. Nanocatalysts represent the convergence of catalysts, a mature technology, with a new one, nanotechnology. Nanocatalysts are nanoscale materials (typically under 100 nanometers in size) that have been subjected to nanoscale structural modification in order to enhance their catalytic activity by increasing the active surface area, resulting in unique physical properties with superior performance.
Size Matters: Unique Properties of Nano Materials
Another essential element is size and scale: a nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter, or 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, or roughly the size of a marble when compared to the earth. QSI catalysts typically measure 5-25 nm.
Nanotechnology involves the fabrication of materials and devices with atomic or molecular-scale precision. It requires the control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1-100 nms, tiny particles that can be seen only with the most powerful electron microscopes. The unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nano materials differ fundamentally from the properties of larger particles. As size decreases to the nano scale, there is a corresponding increase in surface area and surface energy. Nano technology focuses on understanding and creating improved materials, devices, and systems to exploit these novel properties.
Catalysis Improves Reaction Time
One of the benefits of increased surface energy is improvement of the rates of chemical reactions, also known as catalysis. Catalysis using nanoscale materials dramatically shortens the chain of chemical reactions required for product conversion.
Nanocatalysis can also improve the performance of a variety of electrochemical and thermochemical applications, such as in the synthesis of industrial chemicals, emissions abatement, batteries, fuel cells, and other electronic components. Advanced nano scale materials and high-performance catalysts are being integrated into solutions for more efficient chemical synthesis, emissions reduction, solar energy, fuel cell development, and battery technology; others include hydrogen generation, water filtration, and electronics manufacturing, particularly in the portable power and clean technology sectors.
In October 2007, QSI was awarded a key U.S. patent for its "Method and Apparatus for Forming Nanoparticles" with more than 30 other applications pending in the areas of compositions, dispersions, processes, and commercial devices. The company has leveraged its core expertise and partnered with industry leaders to achieve mass-market penetration and distribution for its advanced catalysts, unique process chemistries, high performance electrodes, and other platform technologies.