2014 was a breakthrough year for Topsoe’s understanding of catalysis. In two separate peer-reviewed articles, Topsoe and its global research partners were able to publish ground-breaking new knowledge on catalysis at the atomic level.
In the years to come, the knowledge achieved through this work will enable Topsoe to take a quantum leap forward in the development of new and urgently-needed catalysts to reduce harmful emissions related to the reﬁnery and automotive industries.
The action of atoms at ’work’
One of the articles, published in July 2014 in Nature Materials, describes a catalyst ‘in action’ at the atomic level under conditions similar to those in an automotive catalytic system. The processes were made visible to the human eye with the help of a newly-developed nanoreactor – essentially a miniaturized catalyst created on an extremely small silicon chip and inserted into one of Topsoe’s high-resolution electron microscopes. The nanoreactor was developed in a close collaboration between Topsoe, the Delft University of Technology and FEI Company, all within the Nano-Imaging under Industrial Conditions (NIMIC) consortium.
The atomic structure of reﬁnery catalysts
The other article, published in September 2014 in Angewandte Chemie, deals with Topsoe’s TK catalyst series, which is used by oil reﬁneries around the world. It contains ﬁrst-ever images showing how the individual atoms of the active ingredient in such catalysts are arranged, providing new insights into what makes a catalyst more effective. This knowledge described in this article was achieved in collaboration with world-renowned experts within catalysis and electron microscopy, including Dr. Quentin Ramasse at the SuperSTEM facility in Daresbury, UK, and Dr. Christian Kisielowski of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.