Oxford Catalysts Group, a spin-out company from Oxford University, has received an innovation award at the 39th biennial Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Awards for its work on Instant Steam technology.
The Instant Steam technology itself enables the generation of steam immediately on demand, using a compact, simple and portable device. It involves passing a liquid fuel – consisting mainly of water with a mixture of methanol and hydrogen peroxide – over a proprietary catalyst. This triggers a spontaneous and highly exothermic reaction and releases product gases as a high temperature steam.
The catalyst, discovered by Oxford Catalysts’ chief scientific officer, Dr Tiancun Xiao, makes it possible to initiate the methanol/hydrogen peroxide reaction at room temperature. For example, the fuel can be contained in a plastic spray bottle and the catalyst incorporated into the nozzle spray mechanism. When the trigger is squeezed, the fuel passes over the catalyst and steam is produced instantly.
The Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Awards are organised by the New York-based magazine Chemical Engineering. The awards recognised the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialised anywhere in the world during 2005 or 2006. Other award winners included Axens (IFP), APSI and Eastman Chemical Company.
In addition to winning the award, a leading multinational recently agreed to work with the company to explore uses for the technology in the fast moving consumer goods market.