A whiff of plasma, when combined with a nanosized catalyst, can cause chemical reactions to proceed faster, more selectively, at lower temperatures, or at lower voltages than without plasma. Using computer modeling, researchers investigated the interactions between plasmas and metal catalysts embedded into ceramic beads in a packed bed reactor. They discovered that together, the metals, beads and gas create plasma that intensifies electric fields and locally heats the catalyst, which can then accelerate reactions.