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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 9, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Efficient conversion of methane to value-added products such as olefins and aromatics has been in pursuit for the past few decades. The demand has increased further due to the recent discoveries of shale gas reserves. Oxidative and non-oxidative coupling of methane (OCM and NOCM) have been actively researched, although catalysts with commercially viable conversion rates are not yet available. Recently,$${{{{{{{\mathrm{Sr}}}}}}}}_2Fe_{1.5 + 0.075}Mo_{0.5}O_{6 - \delta }$$Sr2Fe1.5+0.075Mo0.5O6δ(SFMO-075Fe) has been reported to activate methane in an electrochemical OCM (EC-OCM) set up with a C2 selectivity of 82.2%1. However, alkaline earth metal-based materials are known to suffer chemical instability in carbon-rich environments. Hence, here we evaluated the chemical stability of SFMO in carbon-rich conditions with varying oxygen concentrations at temperatures relevant for EC-OCM. SFMO-075Fe showed good methane activation properties especially at low overpotentials but suffered poor chemical stability as observed via thermogravimetric, powder XRD, and XPS measurements where SrCO3was observed to be a major decomposition product along with SrMoO3and MoC. Nevertheless, our study demonstrates that electrochemical methods could be used to selectively activate methane towards partial oxidation products such as ethylene at low overpotentials while higher applied biases result in the complete oxidation of methane to carbon dioxide and water.

  3. Lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries have great potential as next generation energy storage devices. However, the redox chemistry mechanism involves the generation of solubilized lithium polysulfides, which can lead to leaching of the active material and, consequently, passivated electrodes and diminished capacities. Chemical tethering of lithium polysulfides to materials in the sulfur cathode is a promising approach for resolving this issue in Li–S batteries. Borrowing from the field of synthetic chemistry, we utilize maleimide functional groups in a Zr-based metal–organic framework to chemically interact with polysulfides through the Michael Addition reaction. A combination of molecular and solid-state spectroscopies confirms covalent attachment of Li 2 S x to the maleimide functionality. When integrated into Li–S cathodes, the maleimide-functionalized framework exhibits notable performance enhancements over that of the unfunctionalized material, revealing the promise of polysulfide anchors for Li–S battery cycling.
  4. The crystal chemistry of carnotite (prototype formula: K2(UO2)2(VO4)2·3H2O) occurring in mine wastes collected from Northeastern Arizona was investigated by integrating spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and x-ray diffraction analyses. Raman spectroscopy confirms that the uranyl vanadate phase present in the mine waste is carnotite, rather than the rarer polymorph vandermeerscheite. X-ray diffraction patterns of the carnotite occurring in these mine wastes are in agreement with those reported in the literature for a synthetic analog. Carbon detected in this carnotite was identified as organic carbon inclusions using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) analyses. After excluding C and correcting for K-drift from the electron microprobe analyses, the composition of the carnotite was determined as 8.64% K2O, 0.26% CaO, 61.43% UO3, 20.26% V2O5, 0.38% Fe2O3, and 8.23% H2O. The empirical formula, (K1.66Ca0.043Al(OH)2+0.145 Fe(OH)2+0.044)((U0.97)O2)2((V1.005)O4)2·4H2O of the studied carnotite, with an atomic ratio 1.9:2:2 for K:U:V, is similar to the that of carnotite (K2(UO2)2(VO4)2·3H2O) reported in the literature. Lattice spacing data determined using selected area electron diffraction (SAED)-TEM suggests: (1) complete amorphization of the carnotite within 120 s of exposure to the electron beam and (2) good agreement of the measured d-spacings for carnotite in the literature. Small differences between the measuredmore »and literature d-spacing values are likely due to the varying degree of hydration between natural and synthetic materials. Such information about the crystal chemistry of carnotite in mine wastes is important for an improved understanding of the occurrence and reactivity of U, V, and other elements in the environment.« less