Newswise-UPTON, NY – Over the past few years, scientists have demonstrated how they capture precious gases such as argon, crypton, and xenon, which are made up of silicon and oxygen-like structures, porous structures, and only billions in size. However, for these silica nanocages to be useful in practice – for example, to improve the efficiency of nuclear energy production – they must be larger than their laboratory versions. The scientists have now moved one step further to take this technology out of the laboratory and into the real world. As you recently reported a few , Commercially available materials may provide a platform for trapping precious gases.
“A square centimeter of nanograms of our laboratory, which can only capture nanograms of gas, takes two weeks and requires expensive starting parts and equipment,” said Anibal Bosbobnik, associate professor of material science in interface science. Catalyst team at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at US Department of Energy (DOE) Science Center at Brookhaven National Laboratory. “There are commercial processes for blending these silica nanocages, they are very cheap and can be used as additives in cement. However, these products do not contain precious gases, so the challenge of expanding our technology was to have a unique understanding of our nanos.
Boscoboinik has been conducting nanocages research in CFN since 2014 following Serendipity. When he and his colleagues discovered that single atoms of argon gas were trapped in the structure of nanozides, they completed a catalysis experiment with silicon nanocages placed on a retinium metal crystal. With this sudden discovery, they became the first group to trap precious gas in a 2-D-porous structure at room temperature. A.D. In 2019, two other precious gases were trapped in the cages – Crypton and Xenon. In this second study, you learned that two processes must take place in order for the trap to work: gases must be converted into ions (electric atoms) before entering the gas, and the nests must be connected to a metal support. Once the ions are neutralized in the cages – place them in an effective trap.
With this understanding, In 2020, Bosbobonic and his team filed a pending patent application. In the same year, through the Technology Communication Fund (TCF), the DOE Technology Transfer Office, in collaboration with Brookhaven’s Department of Nuclear Science and Technology and Forge Nano, selected CNN’s research proposal to develop laboratory-built nanoes. The purpose of this measurement is to increase the surface area for both uranium and nuclear blast products to trap crypton and xenon. Their capture is needed to improve the efficiency of nuclear power plants, increase operational pressures, prevent operational failures, reduce radioactive nuclear waste, and identify nuclear weapons tests.
The beginning of upbringing
In parallel with the TCF’s efforts, the CFN team began exploring how to measure nanotechnology, practical applications, nuclear and more. During their inspections, the CFN team found a company that produces large quantities of silica nanocages in powder form. Instead of storing the nanoparticles on the rhubarb single crystals, the team placed them on low-cost ruthenium thin films. Unlike laboratory-based nanos, these nanos have organic (carbon) components. So, after placing the nests on the thin film, they heated the material around the oxide to burn these parts. However, the gases do not contain any gases.
“We found that the metal must be in the metal,” said a graduate student at the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering at Stone Brook University. “In combustion of organic matter, we partially oxidize rutin. To return the metal to the metal, we must reheat the contents in a hydrogen or other reducing environment. The metals can then be used as electronic sources to reduce gas emissions.
Next, CFN scientists and their collaborators checked whether the new material from Stone Brooke University still contained the gases. To do this, they performed an in-state X-ray X-ray Electric Spectroscope (AP-XPS) at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), another DOE office in In In and Operando Soft X-ray Spectroscopy (IOS) beamline. Science User Institute at Brookhaven Laboratory. In AP-XPS, the X-ray stimulates the sample, which causes electrons to come out. An investigator records the number of electrons emitted and the kinetic energy. By plotting this information, scientists can examine the chemical composition and chemical bonding states of the sample. In this study, X-rays were needed not only for the measurements but also for ionizing the gas: here, xenon. They started the experiment at room temperature and gradually increased the temperature, finding a suitable range for fishing (350 to 530 degrees Fahrenheit). Outside of this range, efficiency begins to decline. At 890 degrees Fahrenheit, the frozen xenon is completely released. Boscoboinik likens this complex temperature-dependent process to the elevator door opening and closing.
“Imagine the door opening and closing very quickly,” said Boscobonic. You need to run very fast to get inside. Like elevators, nanocages have a “mouth” that opens and closes. The rate at which the gases are opened and closed should be proportional to the level of movement of the ions that are heated to increase the chances of ions entering the nest and becoming neutral.
Following these experiments, scientists from the Universidad Nacional de San Luis at the University of Argentina and the University of Pennsylvania confirmed this hypothesis. Applying Monte Carlo’s methods – mathematical techniques – to predict the unintended consequences of unpredictable events – they exemplified the very rapid velocities that can occur at gas temperatures. Another collaborator at the Catalyst Energy Innovation Center calculates the energy needed to get xenon out of its nests.
“These studies have provided us with information on the mechanical aspects of the process, especially on the effects of heat,” said co-author and CFN postdoctoral researcher Matthew Dornels de Melo.
A series of steps to raise the bar
Scientists now see if the materials are large enough (two hundred square meters) and will continue to work as they please. They also explore more practical ways to ionize gas.
The team is considering a number of potential applications for their technology. For example, nanocages may be more energy-efficient to capture precious gases such as xenon and krypton. These gases are now separated from the air using an energy-intensive process of cooling the air to a very low temperature.
Xenon and krypton are used to make many products, such as light. One of the main uses of xenon is in high-intensity discharge lamps, including some bright white headlights. Also, crypton is used for airport traffic lights and high-speed photographic flashlights.
Considering previous theoretical calculations, the team believes that their process should be able to capture radioactive gases, including radio. Radon, which is commonly found in underground and low-rise buildings, can damage lung cells, which can lead to cancer. This ability to trap radioactive precious gases is appropriate for many applications, such as reducing large amounts of radioactive gases, monitoring nuclear insecurity, and producing medically appropriate isotopes. The CFN team is reviewing the medical application in Brookhaven in collaboration with the Medical Isotope Research and Production Program.
“Basic studies in terrestrial science often do not lead to useful products,” says Bosbobinic. “At the same time, we are trying to increase the level of complexity and try to do something that will affect these materials.”
This CFN-led research was funded by the DOE Science Office and the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund. CFN is the DOE Nanoscale Science Research Center. The NSLS-II AP-XPS device on the IOS beamline was developed in partnership with NSLS-II and CFN. Catalysis Energy Innovation Center is an energy boundary research center at Delaware University and funded by the DOE Science Office.
Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Science Office. The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in physical science in the United States and is working to address some of the most challenging challenges of our time. Visit https://energy.gov/science for more information.
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