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Dr. Rakesh K Sharma, Associate Professor and Devika Laishram, Student, Department of Chemistry have developed a catalytic converter for Automobiles using Rajasthani Clay
Dr. Rakesh K Sharma, Associate Professor and Devika Laishram, Student, Department of Chemistry have developed patented non-rare earth, non-noble metal based catalytic converter for Automobiles using Rajasthani Clay.
 
Background of the work:
Automobile industry is facing strict emission regulations in an effort to reduce the amount of harmful air pollutants that are released into the environment related to NOx, COx, and soot along with particulate matter. Currently, one method of reducing harmful emissions is three-way catalytic (TWC) converter that reduces harmful NOx to N2 and O2, oxidizes CO to CO2, and oxidizes residual hydrocarbons to CO2 and water. However, it requires the use of the rare-earth element Cerium (Ce) and Palladium, which are expensive and suffer from supply problems. These expensive metals make the the catalytic converter one of the costliest parts of car with price ranging from $1000-$1500. Each catalytic converter has about 5-7gm of pure palladium, which cost around $60 per gram which is more expensive than gold. Despite that cost, the performance of catalytic converter go down with time mostly in 8-10 years, while approved life of car is about 15 years.
 
The research team of Dr. Sharma has been working on finding an alternate solution by understanding the catalytic converter deactivation and looking for a cheaper solution for the same. His team has found that with time, palladium particles spread over Cerium undergo surface oxidation and decompose into small particles due to high temperature oxidation process (>320 degree). So there were three challenges - 1. Reduction of temperature, 2. Replacement of palladium and cerium with non-noble metal, and 3. Re-designing of the converter to prevent metal deactivation. The Fe-Ni-Co cooperative nano-particles were used in the isolated Nanospheres (work as single site catalyst) where Hafnia- Rajasthani Clay was used as oxygen reservoir. The catalytic performance was found to be better than conventional converter at < 300 degree. Preliminary part of the work has been published in reputed American Chemical Society Journal recently.