Scientists develop eco friendly carbon catalysts

The Engineer has reported that Norwegian Scientists are developing carbon catalysts that could be used instead of precious metals to speed up chemical reactions.

The 3.2million EU-backed FREECATS (carbon nanostructures as metal free catalysts) project is aiming to develop environmentally friendly catalysts that can be used in fuel cells, water purification and the production of light olefins.  The scientists will attempt to build carbon structures on the atomic scale that are capable of binding or transforming substances in certain ways.

Catalysis is one of the major consumers of precious metals, such as platinum. However, platinum group metals are not usually found naturally in Europe therefore European countries rely on imports.  Bu using alternative catalysts Prof Magnus Rønning of Norwegian University of Science and Technology  said, ‘the European dependency on precious metals will ease and therefore the dependency on less stable countries to supply these’.

The three-year project commenced in April 2012 and the team hopes the first catalysts will be available by the end of this year. There are 9 European research institutions and technology enterprises are working on the project, which is being coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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