“Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) developed a palladium-iron hydrodeoxygenation catalyst (Pd/Fe2O3) that could lead to making drop-in biofuels cheaply and more efficiently. Their work was published in the journal ACS Catalysis. Led by Professor Yong Wang, who holds a joint appointment at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as an associate director at the Institute for Integrated Catalysis, the researchers mixed inexpensive iron with a tiny amount of rare palladium to make the catalyst. Adding extremely small amounts of palladium to iron helped cover the surface of the catalyst with hydrogen, speeding up the reaction and making it work better. It also prevented water from interrupting the reactions.
Additionally, it minimized the hydrogen consumption needed to remove the oxygen. The team used advanced techniques – including high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and extended X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy— to understand how atoms on the catalyst’s surface interact with the
plant material lignin. Corresponding theoretical calculations were done by a WSU team led by Jean-Sabin McEwen.