New zeolite material may solve diesel shortage

February 1, 2012

World fuel consumption is shifting more and more to diesel at the expense of gasoline. A recently published article in Nature Chemistry by a research team at Stockholm University and the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain presents a new porous material that evinces unique properties for converting gasoline directly into diesel. The material has a tremendously complex atomic structure that could only be determined with the aid of transmission electron microscopy.

The aluminosilicate, which has been named ITQ-39, belongs to the zeolite class and has a that enables sufficiently small molecules to pass through it. On their way through, they can react with other molecules and create a desired product. The new material has channels of varying size and shape in different directions. These variously shaped channels entail that a molecule that is transported inside the material can be limited in different ways, depending on the direction it travels.

ITQ-39 is the most complex zeolite material ever discovered. Its structure was determined by a research team at Stockholm University headed by Professor Xiaodong Zou, with the help of electron crystallography. On an electron microscope, extremely small crystals can be studied, in this case down to a couple of nanometers. What makes ITQ-39 such a complicated material is that, unlike most other , it is not perfectly ordered. The material studied has a type of chaotic order. To be able to understand the material in the smallest detail requires both a model of how the atoms are arranged in the minimal ordered areas and a model of how these domains are then linked together into crystals. This disorder can be studied with the aid of high-resolution images taken with an that can then serve as a basis for creating a model of the atomic structure of the material. This is what researchers Tom Willhammar, Junliang Sun, Wan Wei, Peter Oleynikov, Daliang Zhang, and Xiaodong Zou at Stockholm University present in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Chemistry.

The material, which was produced by a research team headed by Professor Avelino Corma in the Polytechnic University of Valencia, has proven to be an excellent catalytic converter for turning gasoline into diesel. This is a process that has become ever more important with the marked growth in the demand for diesel in recent years.

Explore further: New zeolite is discovered

More information: "Structure and catalytic properties of the most complex intergrown zeolite ITQ-39 determined by electron crystallography" Nature Chemistry 2012 (DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1253)

Related Stories

New zeolite is discovered

October 18, 2006

A Spanish-led team of geologists has reported discovering a porous material with a new, highly open framework structure.

Looking inside nanomaterials in 3 dimensions

May 16, 2011

On May 13 2011, the journal Science published a paper where scientists from Risoe DTU (Denmark), in collaboration with scientists from China and the USA, report a new method for revealing a 3-D picture of the structure inside ...

Recommended for you

Scientists enlist baker's yeast in a hunt for new medicines

July 24, 2017

One of the hardest parts in drug discovery is pinning down how a medicine actually works in the body. It took nearly 100 years to uncover the molecular target of aspirin, but even with cutting-edge technology, it can take ...

A toolbox for creating new drugs

July 24, 2017

ETH microbiologists led by Markus K├╝nzler have discovered a remarkable enzyme in a fungus. They now want to use it to develop new drugs.

Genetically engineered yeast soak up heavy metal pollution

July 21, 2017

Environmental contamination with heavy metals is often the result of various types of industrial processes. Because heavy metals can be dangerous to humans and other wildlife, contaminated sites need to be cleaned up. This ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.