How Nanotechnology Could Make Car Catalysts More Sustainable

Category: Safety and Health; Energy

  1. Problem: Although three-way catalysts reduce more efficiently than older models, they still rely on platinum group metals, rare earth  metals, and zirconium oxide, all of which can be hazardous to human health and the environment and have low recycling rates.
  2. Summary:
    • The technology is the brainchild of NewCatCo, a participant in the New Design for the Circular Economy (NDCE) project hosted by the Technology Strategy Board program in the UK.
    • Paul Sermon, NewCatCo’s technical director and a professor at Brunel University, is hoping to create more of a circular model for the catalysts, one that could reuse up to 90% of the materials used.
    • The new three-way catalysts will be “based on monolithic designs, using novel nano-engineered sustainable materials that can be nano-processed,” which Sermon believes would greatly enhance their recyclability.
  3. Stakeholders
    • The company and its investors
    • Car manufacturers
    • Consumers
    • Government (seeking to combat air pollution)
    • The public (will benefit from cleaner air)
  4. Deployment
    • Carry out feasibility studies, including things like health and environmental impacts, supply chain issues, and lifecycle analysis
    • If design proves feasible work with UK government and car manufacturers to implement on a small scale
    • If successful scale up design
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