New material could cut diesel engine pollution by 45%

New material could cut diesel engine pollution by 45%
Researchers in the US have discovered a new material that could reduce the pollution produced by vehicles that run on diesel fuel by around 45%.

Derived from a family of minerals called oxides, the new mullite composite is being commercialised under the trademark name Noxicat and is being offered as a replacement to platinum; a rare and expensive metal that is currently used in diesel engines to try to control the amount of pollution released into the air.

"Many pollution control and renewable energy applications require precious metals that are limited – there isn't enough platinum to supply the millions and millions of automobiles driven in the world," said Dr Kyeongjae Cho, a professor of materials science and engineering at University of Texas at Dallas. "Mullite is not only easier to produce than platinum, but also better at reducing pollution in diesel engines."

Dr Cho and his team used advanced computer modelling techniques to analyse how different forms of mullite interacted with oxygen and carbon monoxide. They then used it to replace platinum in diesel engine experiments and found that it could reduce pollution by 45%.

"We've found new possibilities to create renewable, clean energy technology by designing new functional materials without being limited by the supply of precious metals," noted Cho. "Our goal to move completely away from precious metals and replace them with oxides that can be seen commonly in the environment has been achieved. We've found new possibilities to create renewable, clean energy technology by designing new functional materials without being limited by the supply of precious metals."

Cho and his team are now exploring other applications for the Noxicat material, such as fuel cells.

Author
Laura Hopperton

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