New approach could spur green technologiesJanuary 23rd, 2012 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 23 (IANS) A new approach to chemical reactions between water and metal oxides, the most abundant minerals on our planet, could prompt faster development of “green” technologies.
It could not only lead to a better understanding of corrosion and how toxic minerals leach from rocks and soil, but also help create new types of batteries or cutting edge catalysts for hydrogen cell.
“This is a global change in how people should view these processes,” said William Casey, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis.
Casey co-authored the study with James Rustad, former geology professor at the same university, who now works as a scientist at Corning Inc. in New York.
Previously, when studying the interactions of water with clusters of metal oxides, researchers tried to pick and study individual atoms to assess their reactivity. But “none of it really made sense,” Rustad said, the journal Nature Materials reports.
Using computer simulations developed by Rustad, and comparing the resulting animations with lab experiments by Casey, the two found that the behaviour of an atom on the surface of the cluster can be affected by an atom some distance away, according to a California statement.
Instead of moving through a sequence of transitional forms, as had been assumed, metal oxides interacting with water fall into a variety of “metastable states” — short-lived intermediates, the researchers found.
For example, in one of Rustad’s animations, a water molecule approaches an oxygen atom on the surface of a cluster. The oxygen suddenly pulls away from another atom binding it into the middle of the cluster and leaps to the water molecule.
Then the structure collapses back into place, ejecting a spare oxygen atom and incorporating the new one. The US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation sponsored the research.
- Exercise protects heart from injury through nitric oxide - May 05, 2011
- Oxygen atmosphere found on Saturn's moon - Nov 26, 2010
- Oxygen breathing bugs older than thought - Oct 20, 2011
- New biochip measures glucose level from saliva - Jan 24, 2012
- Soon, self-cleaning, wiper-free car windshields thanks to graphene - Feb 02, 2011
- Exercise protects heart via nitric oxide - May 05, 2011
- Hot springs of volcanic crater in Siberia reveals ancient ecology - Apr 27, 2011
- World's thinnest material could come in handy as dispersing agent - Jun 15, 2010
- New discoveries resolve debate over oxygen in Earth's mantle - Dec 15, 2010
- How peptides control crystal growth with 'switches, throttles and brakes' - Nov 24, 2009
- Missing sugar molecule 'increases diabetes risk' - Feb 25, 2011
- Mimicking photosynthesis key to inexpensive solar-powered jet fuel - Feb 21, 2011
- 'Super sand' to purify drinking water - Jun 23, 2011
- Scientists use bacteria to make radioactive metals inert - Sep 09, 2009
- New way of keeping metal surfaces ice, frost-free - Jun 12, 2012
Tags: abundant minerals, casey co, computer simulations, corning inc, faster development, geology professor, hydrogen cell, journal nature, lab experiments, metal oxides, metastable states, national science foundation, nature materials, oxygen atom, rocks and soil, university of california davis, us department of energy, water fall, water molecule, william casey