A Northwestern University research team has developed a new method for making highly desirable catalysts from metal nanoparticles that could lead to better fuel cells, among other applications.
The researchers also discovered the method can take spent catalysts and recycle them into active catalysts.
Made mainly of precious metals, these coveted catalysts are shaped like gems.
Each particle has 24 different faces that present atoms at the surface in ways that make them more catalytically active than those available commercially.
The methodology takes basic metal precursors, and, using heat and stabilizing trace elements, rapidly transforms their shape into structures that are highly active catalytically.
Commercial products such as fuel cells -- important sources of clean energy -- rely on such catalysts.