Ames Laboratory uses High-Throughput Techniques to Find Green Catalysts

March 16, 2011

Ames Laboratory researcher and Iowa State University (ISU) professor L. Keith Woo is on the search for catalysts that lead to more efficient, safer, and cleaner chemical reactions that work at lower pressures and temperatures and create less waste.

In one project, Dr. Woo is working to understand the chemistry behind fast pyrolysis for creating bio-oil from biomass. Fast pyrolysis quickly heats up biomass (such as corn stalks and leaves) in the absence of oxygen to produce a liquid bio-oil. In a second project, he worked with ISU professor Robert Angelici to find a gold-based catalyst that eliminates the need for harsh acids and high pressure in the production of commercial lactam, which is used in manufacturing nylons and other industrial polymers. And, in yet another project, Dr. Woo's research team is studying how to synthetically develop highly specialized catalysts with iron porphyrins (the heme in the hemoglobin of red blood cells). See the complete EnergyBlog post.