Turn straw into gold. Such stuff can only be see in fairy tales. Today, a group of scientist is trying to turn straw into consumable energy.
The experts make use of a nanocatalyst to perform this modern-day magic. The particle that stirs up the process has some particles of gold on the surface of the titatium-oxide. The combination of these materials are quite strong to break bonds between molecules of oxygen and between molecules of acetic acid. A few technical terms after and you will get ethanol, an important precursor to produce viable fuel.
Because of its ability to break bonds between molecules, the nanocatalyst is being looked at as one of the best candidates to be used in industrial applications for the production of clean energy. One of the proponents explained that the nanoparticles have very high activity during various reactions.
In order to look into the possibilities, the team from the University of Virginia combines lab experiments with computer simulations. Through their work, they saw a reaction site on the gold-titanium complex that is pretty much like catalysis.
The earlier part of the study made the scientist think that it was only the gold that was active during the reactions they saw. Recently though they realized that the oxides also play a very important role in the process. They create the site where the most important reactions can take place.
Experts say that oil will be more expensive in the future and the only way out for us will be to do biomass conversion. Scientists need to find efficient ways to make biofuels affordable and having better catalysts will make the process a lot easier.
The simulations on computers for the gold-titanium oxide catalyst is just a start of something big. If it ever leads to producing gases from the grasses, this will lead to more sustainable fuels that are available to the masses.