Palladium a Key Ingredient in New Biofuel Stability Mix

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Scientists have combined iron and palladium to form a new catalyst for converting biomass into fuels fit for today’s gas tanks. It’s part of an effort to make biofuels more energy dense, and therefore more competitive with fossil fuels, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

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Have you ever found that when using ethanol or another biofuel that your tank runs dry faster because it burns faster than gasoline? That’s because their source, biomass, contains a fair amount of oxygen. That makes them less stable, too viscous and less efficient than the fuels they’re meant to replace.

Using iron as a catalyst to remove the oxygen is inexpensive, but the water in organic biomass can rust the iron, canceling its effectiveness. Palladium, however is rust resistant, but it’s not as efficient as iron in removing the oxygen, and it’s far more expensive than plentiful iron.

So researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) decided to combine the two. They added just a pinch of palladium to iron, a recipe that efficiently removes oxygen from biomass without the rust. The paper on their work was chosen as the cover story in the October issue of the scientific journal ACS Catalysis. In it, the researchers said they discovered that combining iron with very small amounts of palladium helped to cover the catalyst’s surface with hydrogen, which accelerates the process of turning biomass into biofuel.

Closing at $774.00 per ounce on the Wednesday, October 22, US palladium bar rose 3.1% to finish as the day’s biggest mover. The price of Chinese palladium bar increased 1.2% to CNY 169.00 ($27.52) per gram. At JPY 2,677 ($24.59) per gram, the price of Japanese palladium bar was essentially unchanged.

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Following a couple of essentially changeless days, the price of US platinum bar rose by 2.7%, closing at $1,274 per ounce. The price of Japanese platinum bar closed at JPY 4,358 ($40.03) per gram. Following a couple days of improvement, the metal’s price weakened by 0.4%. Chinese platinum bar finished the day up 0.4% to CNY 268.00 ($43.64) per gram.

The price of US gold bullion increased 0.9% to $1,249 per ounce. Chinese gold bullion prices rose 0.2% to CNY 246.00 ($40.05) per gram. At INR 27,670 ($451.35), the price of Indian gold bullion finished the market day up 0.1% per 10 grams. The price of Japanese gold bullion remained essentially flat at JPY 4,273 ($39.25) per gram.

After a 1.4% increase, US silver finished the day at $17.52 per ounce. Japanese silver prices inched up 0.8% to JPY 600.00 ($5.51) per 10 grams. Chinese silver saw its price rise 0.1% to CNY 3,895 ($634.18) per kilogram. Indian silver saw little change in its price on Wednesday at INR 39,363 ($642.08) per kilogram.

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