December 2,2015

DOE 9d: Atomically Precise Structures and Devices for Catalysis

  • Release Date:11-02-2015
  • Open Date:11-30-2015
  • Due Date:12-21-2015
  • Close Date:02-09-2016


Atomically Precise Structures and Devices for Catalysis

Advances in the design and synthesis of atomically-precise enzyme-like catalytic structures offer the potential for efficient transformation of low-cost chemicals to high value products [1-4]. We seek atomically precise approaches to advance catalyst technology. For the purpose of this opportunity, the term “atomically precise” is defined as virtually defect-free structures and devices, where every atom and bond is at a specified location and orientation, and there are essentially no impurities or defects in the functional portions. This includes but is not limited to Spiroligomers, Metal Organic Frameworks, engineered proteins, enzymes, ribozymes, and engineered DNA and RNA. While nanoparticles may act as useful substrates for atomically precise catalysts, note that most nanoparticles are not atomically precise and therefore would not qualify as enzyme-like catalytic structures without significant modification or new synthetic approaches for their manufacture.

“Enzyme-like” refers to the fact that enzymes have evolved highly-efficient receptor sites and potential energy surfaces to bring chemical reactants together in favorable positions and orientations. The method of synthesis of these atomically precise catalytic structures should allow scalable, high yield production as in most commercial synthetic chemistry processes. We seek applications of high energy impact at a national level.

Areas of particular interests include:

Novel Catalytic Routes to Direct Synthesis of Carbon Fiber from Gas or Solution Phase. As a deliverable, a minimum of 25% improvement in energy intensity over fiber production in current commercial practice shall be demonstrated through the physics-based design and synthesis of atomically precise solid catalysts, with sufficient experimental measurements and supporting calculations to show that the technology could feasibly synthesize low defect carbon fiber, and that cost-competitive energy savings could be achieved with practical economies of scale. The application should provide a path to demonstration of synthesis of carbon fiber (if not actual synthesis), and to process scale up in potential Phase II follow on work.

Photocatalysis of water without using sacrificial reagents. Proposed approaches should require less than half the energy consumption of best-in-class systems (e.g, NaTaO3:La) for equivalent production of H2 and O2.

Low temperature production of chemicals from hydrocarbons. Proposed methods should result in energy consumptions that approach the practical minima outlined in [5].

Questions – Contact: David Forrest, David.Forrest@ee.doe.gov



1. Atomically-Precise Methods for Synthesis of Solid Catalysts, ed.  Hermans, de Bocarme, et al., Royal Society of Chemistry, London, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-84973-829-3 http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/ebook/9781849738293#!divbookcontent

2. Wet Chemical Synthesis of Atomically Precise Nanocatalysts, Energy Frontier Research Center. http://www.efrc.lsu.edu/project1.html

 3. Institute for Atom Efficient Chemical Transformations, Argonne National Laboratory, http://web.anl.gov/catalysis-science/materials_synthesis.html

 4. Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, Pacific Northwest National Library http://efrc.pnnl.gov/

 5. Bandwidth Study on Energy Use and Potential Energy Saving Opportunities in U.S. Chemical Manufacturing, EERE (June 2015). http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/08/f26/chemical_bandwidth_report.pdf