Catalyst Reduces Pollutants From Modern Engines

Dec. 20, 2017
The catalyst also uses less platinum, an expensive component of catalytic converters.

Researchers at The University of New Mexico (UNM) and Washington State University reportedly develop a catalyst that can reduce pollutants at the lower temperatures expected in advanced engines. This is important, according to the university, because as cars become more fuel-efficient and less heat is wasted in the exhaust, it becomes more difficult to clean up the pollutants. The powerful catalyst reportedly also uses smaller amounts of platinum, the most expensive component of emission-control catalysts.

The researchers were challenged to design a catalyst that could endure engine exhaust temperatures of up to nearly 750 degrees Celsius (about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit) encountered under high engine loads, according to UNM.  The catalyst must still work when an engine is started cold and must clean up the exhaust before reaching 150 degrees Celsius, more than 100 degrees Celsius less than current systems.

“The lower operating temperatures during cold start are due to increasing fuel efficiency in advanced combustion engines, which leaves less energy in the tailpipe exhaust,” says Abhaya Datye, a distinguished professor at UNM’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and study co-author.

The recent findings grew out of a collaboration between research groups led by Yong Wang, who holds a joint appointment in Washington State University’s Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Datye’s catalysis group at New Mexico. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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