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Synthesis

Eliminating Ethylene

Platinum nanoparticles on mesoporous silica oxidize fruit-ripening gas at low temperatures

by Bethany Halford
May 22, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 20

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Credit: Shutterstock
Excess ethylene turns bananas brown.
09120-scicon-bananascxd.jpg
Credit: Shutterstock
Excess ethylene turns bananas brown.

Fruits, vegetables, and flowers release the growth-regulating plant hormone ethylene, which in turn accelerates their aging, causing them to release more of the volatile two-carbon compound. Left unchecked, a trace amount of ethylene can lead to spoiled produce, even in a refrigerated container. Chemists at Japan’s Hokkaido University are now offering a nanoscale solution. Atsushi Fukuoka, Chuanxia Jiang, and Kenji Hara show that platinum nanoparticles supported on mesoporous silica readily oxidize ethylene (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201300496). Using a small amount of this catalyst, the researchers managed to oxidize more than 99.8% of ethylene gas at a concentration of 50 ppm at 0 °C. This, they say, represents the highest conversion of ethylene oxidation at low temperature reported to date.

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