PITA Fiscal Year 2008 Projects - Nanotechnology

Energy Applications Of Iron Nanoparticles – Exploratory Research On Carbon Sequestration

The goal of our proposed work is to explore the potential of iron nanoparticles for carbon sequestration and hydrocarbon synthesis, two fundamental challenges in the energy industry. Iron nanoparticles with their potent catalytic properties and proven capability in gaseous hydrocarbon synthesis have a great deal to offer in solving current environmental and energy challenges. Building on research at Lehigh University in the past decade that discovered several methods for large-scale production of iron nanoparticles, we believe that Lehigh is well positioned in this area for a high-impact technological innovation. We have two specific objectives in the proposed investigations: (i) evaluate carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption, storage and sequestration with iron nanoparticles; and (ii) explore and develop catalytic transformation of dissolved carbon dioxide and formation of small, 1- and 2-carbon hydrocarbons (e.g., methane, ethane, ethene) under environmental conditions. In order to accomplish these objectives, this proposal brings together two collaborators with complementary skills and the necessary expertise to successfully tackle this complex problem. Specifically, we will address the critical need to fully characterize the surface composition and structure of the iron nanoparticles in order to understand the origin of their properties and the chemical reaction mechanisms occurring in solution. We will utilize the unique, high-resolution ESCA 300 instrument at Lehigh University for state-of-the-art x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) in combination with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to elucidate the chemical nature of carbon at the nanoparticle surface and thus provide mechanistic information on coordination, precipitation, and catalytic reactions at the surface that is needed to develop effective sequestration technology.