Liquid platinum catalyst offers sustainable solution for industry
27 Aug 2022
Australian scientists say they have found a way to employ platinum as a potentially scalable industrial catalyst, by avoiding the financial and environmental cost of using the metal in its solid state.
Teams from the universities of New South Wales Sydney and RMIT Melbourne discovered that using trace amounts of platinum in liquid form combined with liquid gallium avoided the need for the much higher temperatures normally required in the chemical engineering process. Their research appeared in Nature Chemistry.
Traditionally, solid state platinum needs to comprise 10% of the catalytic system required to create chemical reactions. With a melting point of nearly 1,770 C, its use can be prohibitively expensive.
However, when combined with gallium in a minute quantity – one thousandth of the proportion of solid state platinum needed in a catalyst – liquid platinum becomes soluable.
Furthermore, gallium has a melting point below 30C, less than 2% of that for solid state platinum. Except during the process of dissolving platinum into gallium initially, high temperatures are not required.
The hope is that the much smaller amounts of platinum used could ensure reserves for longer and the lower temperatures required contribute to more sustainable industrial processes.