February 22, 2013

When water speaks

Solvents make catalysts more efficient

RUB researchers analyse interfaces between water and catalyst with computer simulations

Why certain catalyst materials work more efficiently when they are surrounded by water instead of a gas phase is unclear. RUB chemists have now gleamed some initial answers from computer simulations. They showed that water stabilises specific charge states on the catalyst surface. “The catalyst and the water sort of speak with each other” says Professor Dominik Marx, depicting the underlying complex charge transfer processes. His research group from the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry also calculated how to increase the efficiency of catalytic systems without water by varying pressure and temperature. The researchers describe the results in the journals “Physical Review Letters” and “Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.”

Heterogeneous catalysis: water or gas as the second phase