Sulfur in Ethylene Epoxidation on Silver

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Image: Fritz Haber Institute

One of the most influential chemicals in our daily lives is something many of us will never see: ethylene oxide. This chemical is a critical ingredient in our modern world, used to make everything from the plastic fibers of our clothes to the lubricants in our cars. Virtually all of it is produced by the catalytic reaction of ethylene and oxygen over a silver surface but, while this process has been known since 1931, just how it happens has remained a mystery. Researchers have used high-performance computing to gain new insight into this mystery by identifying the structure of the active catalyst surface and showing how it mediates the reaction of ethylene and oxygen to form ethylene oxide.

Read the complete user research report at the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing.

Principal Investigator

Travis Jones

Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Berlin