Here, a novel integration is proposed for radio frequency (1–300 MHz) responsive nanomaterials with conventional catalytic materials to realize a new class of heterogeneous catalysts that undergo uniform volumetric and localized heating to drive chemical transformations at the modular scale. Approximately 80% of chemical manufacturing involves heterogeneous catalytic reactions, which currently require heating via steam utilities or fired furnaces, and thus contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions while also limiting distributed chemicals production. This approach uses an electric route to produce chemicals where radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields and their interaction with carbon/ceramic nanomaterials are utilized to selectively heat the catalyst composition. A proof-of-concept is demonstrated using the commonly studied methanol steam reforming reaction on a platinum catalyst. In this study, two RF susceptors are used: carbon nanotubes and silicon carbide fibers. The conversion rate of methanol using RF heating is comparable to oven heating at varying temperature and catalyst combinations. This is a potential improvement over conventional catalytic reactors in that it enables small, safe, sustainable, on-site, and on-demand production of chemicals in the absence of traditional manufacturing infrastructure.
- modular processing
- portable manufacturing