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Kiely and team produce hydrogen peroxide on demand

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a versatile household product. In dilute form, it disinfects wounds, bleaches hair, whitens teeth, removes fabric stains, cleans contact lenses, and kills mold. In high concentrations, it can be decomposed through catalysis into oxygen and steam and used as a propellant or explosive.

H2O2 is typically made in a multi-step, energy-intensive process, necessitating its production only in large quantities and shipped and stored in a highly concentrated form. Now a group of researchers, including Chris Kiely from the department of materials science and engineering, has developed a method of producing the chemical on demand through a simple one-step process.

The method enables dilute H2O2 to be made directly from hydrogen and oxygen in small quantities on-site, making it more accessible to underdeveloped regions of the world — where it can potentially be used to purify water.

The research, titled “Palladium-tin catalysts for the direct synthesis of H2O2 with high selectivity,” was published in the journal Science. The study concluded that bimetallic compounds consisting of palladium and any one of six other elements can effectively catalyse the hydrogenation of oxygen to form hydrogen peroxide.

Coauthors of the study include researchers from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University in Wales and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The Lehigh team included Qian He, ’12 Ph.D., who works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Li Lu, a Ph.D. candidate at Lehigh.

Source: Lehigh University News

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