PerspectiveChemistry

Less Costly Catalysts for Controlling Engine Emissions

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Science  26 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5973, pp. 1584-1585
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187154

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Summary

Lowering the fuel consumption of transportation vehicles could decrease both emissions of greenhouse gases and our dependence on fossil fuels. One way to increase the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines is to run them “lean,” in the presence of more air than needed to burn all of the fuel. It may seem strange that engines are usually designed to run with fuel and air at stoichiometric balance, or even fuel rich. However, the way emissions have been controlled with catalytic converters has required some unburned fuel in the exhaust, especially for controlling the nitrogen oxide pollutants NO and NO2 (called NOx). On page 1624 of this issue, Kim et al. (1) report encouraging results for catalysts that can process NOx in lean-burn engines. These perovskite oxide catalysts may help reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive and scarce platinum group metals (PGMs) in emissioncontrol catalysts.