Breakthrough Nano-structure Immobilization Technology Scheduled for Catalysis Trials at Cal Tech

Ken Cross crossconsulting at
Tue Jan 17 20:33:33 PST 2006

Dear Dr. Nishi et. al.,

Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Ken Cross.  I am a chemical
engineer and consultant with ~20 yrs experience in the development of
various chemical reaction and separation processes. Recently, I've invented
and developed a new micro- and nano-particle/structure immobilization
technology which operates by virtue of a completely unique set of (physical)
principles, creating new development and applications possibilities for
several nanotechnologies, including but not limited to the acceleration and
significant increase in the operational efficiency of research efforts in
the area of micro- and nano-chemistry and materials, including
physisorption, chemisorption, and micro- / nano-catalysis.  Moreover, this
technology solves the problems associated with 'catalyst particle retention'
within and without the lab (i.e. on any scale), thereby facilitating, for
the first time, the commercial deployment of many effective micro- and
nanocatalysis schema which would otherwise be (or have so far been) confined
to laboratory/small-scale use due solely to the severe engineering
limitations of currently-used micro-nano-structure fixation/immobilization
techniques.  Based, then, on my limited knowledge of your research facility,
I suspect your institution may be interested in using this technology for
various novel applications.

The technology is called HENCI, for High Efficiency Nano-Catalyst
Immobilization, yet it works just as well in non-catalytic applications,
immobilizing nano-structures regardless of their shape or morphology
(including nano-tubes).  For any scenario in which one wishes to expose
nano-sized particles or structures to a fluid matrix then, in addition to
providing ultra-high fluid dynamic and mass-transport efficiencies, HENCI
allows researchers to expose micro- and nano-sized particles, structures,
and catalysts to any contact/reactant fluid-matrix (e.g. for sorption
studies, surface characterization and phenomena study, determination of
reaction yield, selectivity, conversion, etc.) with all the benefits of
in-situ exposure, but without the need for any (expensive and
time-consuming) post-reaction separation (RO/NF/etc.) of the
nano-structures/particles from the 'product' matrix solution (for reaction
cessation, protecting expensive analytical equipment, or other

With HENCI, the product matrix is always 100% nano-structure/particle free
because in a HENCI system, the nano-structures/particles/catalysts are never
actually introduced into the reactant matrix solution.

Conversely, HENCI renders all conventional immobilization techniques
obsolete by allowing most micro- and nano-sized particles (including most
micro- & nano-sorption agents or catalysts) to be very homogeneously and
densely immobilized within nearly any size vessel (batch, or
continuous/flow-through packed-bed type) without the technical drawbacks
which render common techniques impractical:
(1) Low loading density - HENCI easily achieves particle/catalyst "loading
densities" orders of magnitude greater than other techniques (loading
densities express 'available catalytic surface area per unit reactor
volume'; this quantity, designated '(' in Ch.E. circles, then has units of
area/volume, or length-1. Without even attempting to maximize this parameter
(100% absolute immobilization, and mass & momentum transport efficiencies
were our first concerns), HENCI systems have achieved ( = 12.98 x 106 m-1 (=
3.3 x 105 in-1) or nearly 13 million square meters of catalytic surface area
per cubic meter of HENCI reactor volume (= 330,000 square inches or about
213 square meters per cubic inch reactor volume) when immobilizing spherical
nanoparticles with a median diameter of ~60 nm. [1] [2]
(2) Significant micro-/nano-particle surface coverage - Regardless of the
loading density at which one operates a HENCI reactor, there are never any
chemical/material species introduced: no binders or adhesion agents of any
type are employed, yet over 98% of the surface area of each
nano-structure, -particle or -catalyst is in direct contact with the
reactant matrix.
(3) Wide exposure distributions - With HENCI, each nano-structure, -particle
or -catalyst receives equal exposure to the matrix.

While these new capabilities are quite valuable from a process engineering
perspective (detailed information on website - link below), for many
nanocatalysis research programs, it is the two practical advantages below
that seem to be most beneficial:

A. For any catalyst being studied, relatively high conversions are
attainable in very short exposure/residence times.  The mass transport
coefficients (and hence observable reaction kinetics) realized with HENCI
are the same or better than those achieved when these micro- and
nano-catalysts are studied in-situ by introducing them into solution and
agitating, as is often done in laboratory treatability and kinetics studies.
[2] [3] [4]

B. HENCI eliminates any need for any post-reaction separation of the
catalyst particles from the reaction product matrix itself. After exposure,
when the product matrix is sampled (or emerges) from the HENCI vessel, it is
particle-free, so one can safely perform all post-exposure analyses without
having to perform, say, RO/NF or magnetic-separation of the catalytic
particles from the reaction matrix because the catalyst particles never
entered the reaction matrix phase to begin with.  Moreover, a 'charge' of
catalyst can be quickly removed and replaced, or simply held in place as the
reaction vessel is flushed for ensuing experimental run(s).

HENCI is NOT a membrane-immobilization technology, nor does it employ
expensive nano-cages, zeolites, binders or chemical adhesion of any kind.
In fact, it is in part because HENCI is free of these conventional
modalities that it performs so uniquely and efficiently, easily
out-performing existing immobilization schemes without any of their
technical (and resulting financial) drawbacks.  Incidentally, as such,
HENCI-facilitated nanocatalysis is the key to the transfer of successful R&D
efforts (in micro- and nano-catalytic processes) from the lab to the outside
world.  For instance, the attributes of HENCI combine to make possible for
the first time [5] an entirely new groundwater remediation option for many
of the (often Superfund-site) groundwaters polluted with little but ppm /
ppb levels of EPA-Hotlist CHC's: Cost-effective on-line, on-demand
point-of-distribution nano-catalytic breakdown of the CHC's into benign
species is now feasible, often rendering the waters directly potable! [2]
[3]. While this is nothing less than revolutionary to the advent of nano-
and micro-catalysis, (the potential savings in water costs and EPA
non-compliance fees alone is in the billions monthly), I have decided, for
several reasons beyond the scope of this letter, to introduce this
technology to society largely by way of the academic 'sector', marketing
HENCI for now solely on it's ability to streamline and speed-up the R&D of
nanocatalysts themselves in the lab.

To wit, HENCI reactors are very inexpensive, require no chemicals, very
little power, space, or maintenance, operate at ambient pressure &
temperature, can be used for unlimited experimental runs with most any
nanocatalyst, have an indefinite lifespan, can be scaled and configured for
any application (even modularly if desired), can be quickly disassembled and
reassembled, and even transported easily if need be.

A plethora of information on HENCI technology and it's capabilities,
including downloadable video footage of live nano- and micro-catalyst
immobilization demonstrations conducted at my facility in San Diego, is
available at the ever-evolving  My full Curriculum
Vitae (and that of the few with whom I am now collaborating) are also
included, that any interested parties might review our backgrounds &
previous client lists, and contact us at their leisure. It is my hope that
your institution will soon join the likes of Cal Tech and others in reaping
the benefits of HENCI to facilitate and accelerate your research.  More
importantly however, with HENCI, together we might more quickly and adroitly
avail the world of some of the unique benefits of nanocatalysis now being
developed in (and confined-to for the reasons cited above) academia. We now
have the final piece in the puzzle of 'unleashing the true potential of
nanocatalysis and other nano-applications for benevolent field use', and it
is my sincere hope that the venerable SNF will join in as our R&D community
ushers in a new era of real-world applications for nanocatalysis,
nano-sorption, and related unit operations.  To wit, I would be happy to
discuss any type of arrangement that allows your members to avail themselves
of HENCI at your facility in the course of their R&D efforts.  Please feel
free to contact me (info below or on the website) at your convenience.  I
have much respect for SNF and I look forward to working with you in the near

[1] Video Taped Demonstrations of December 2005, HENCI Systems, Cardiff, CA
[2] Zhang, Lien - Journal of Nanoparticle Research 5: 323-332, 2003
[3] Cross, Kenneth W., HENCI Initial Trials Report to NWRI, December 2004
[4] Schrick, Blough, et. al., Chem. Mater. 14: 5140-5147, 2002
[5] Cross, Kenneth W., "The Five Engineering Attributes necessary for
Commercial Viability of    Ex-Situ Nanocatalyst Immobilization",


Kenneth W. Cross
  Cross Consulting
 1220 Caminito Septimo
     Cardiff, CA 92007
       (760) 944-9778
crossconsulting at

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