Catalyst advance removes pollutants at low temperatures | 3/25/2019 | Staff
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Researchers at Washington State University, University of New Mexico, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a catalyst that can both withstand high temperatures and convert pollutants at near room temperature—an important advance for reducing pollution in modern cars.

They report on their work in the journal, Nature Communications.

Converters - US - Way - Pollutants - Vehicle

Catalytic converters have been used in the U.S. since the 1970s as a way to clean up pollutants from vehicle exhaust. In the catalytic process, rare metals, such as platinum, are used in a chemical reaction to convert carbon monoxide and other pollutants to non-toxic carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water.

As cars have become more fuel-efficient, however, they use less energy and the temperature of the exhaust gases is lower, which makes it harder to clean up the pollutants. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of removing 90 percent of harmful emissions at 150 degrees Celsius or lower.

Catalysts - Temperatures - Conditions - Operation

The catalysts have to perform at low temperatures but also must survive under the harsh conditions encountered during operation.

"The catalyst problem has increased paradoxically as cars have become better and more efficient," said Emiel Hensen, catalysis professor at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Industry - Cost - Metals - Catalysis - Platinum

Meanwhile, the industry also struggles with the high cost of the precious metals required for catalysis. Platinum, for instance, facilitates chemical reactions for many commonly used products and processes but costs more than $800 per ounce.

The catalyst the researchers developed is based on the activation of single atoms of platinum supported on cerium oxide. While their catalyst outperforms current technology,...
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