New possibilities within catalysis
Catalysts are not only used to speed up chemical transformations. They are also used to selectively steer reactions into desired molecules.
One challenging and technologically important reaction is selective hydrogenation of acetylene (C2H2) to ethylene (C2H4). The reaction is difficult due to the risk for over-hydrogenation into ethane (C2H6).
Mikkel Jørgensen and Henrik Grönbeck have in a study that recently was published in Journal of American Chemical Society, explored selective acetylene hydrogenation over, so-called, single atom alloys consisting of isolated Pd atoms embedded in Cu nanoparticles. The research involved simultaneous development of novel computational techniques for studies of reactions over nanoparticles. They find that a high selectivity for the reaction can be reached by synthesis of large nanoparticles and that the Pd-atoms should be placed in corner sites.