Designing a Nano-Cat for Catalytic Conversion and Environmental Remediation Essay Example


  1. Introduction and Scope

Nanotechnology science is one of emerging fields of science involved with controlling the size of individual molecules and atoms with manifold applications, from medical to scientific. When the particles are reduced to nano-particles, they become highly reactive. One of the current problems facing the world today is environmental pollution. Automobiles and other internal combustion plant engines produce exhaust gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming. Nano-catalytic converters that use nanomaterial particles have the potential to efficiently convert harmful exhaust gases produced by internal combustion fossil fuel engines into inert chemicals, water vapor and CO2 prior to release in to the environment.

Many types of materials are currently used in catalytic converters, such as alumina, graphitic carbon, and transition metals such as palladium, platinum, iron, rhodium and silver. Nanoparticles of these materials have been found effective in reducing automobile pollution. However, they are more expensive and not available in abundance and their use is unsustainable. As a cheaper alternative, copper nanoparticles have been considered in this research for use in catalytic converters. Copper is available in abundance and its application in catalytic conversion can be considered cheaper and environmentally sustainable.

  1. Aims and Objectives

The objective of this research study will be to design a cheaper and environmentally sustainable nano-catalytic converter to help reduce production of harmful emissions from automobiles, food processing industries, gas turbines, chemical manufacturing industries and other internal combustion engines. The project aims to use cheaper and available materials in the catalysis process, other than expensive cerium oxide, palladium, rhodium, silver or platinum that are currently being used.

  1. Research Questions

Catalytic converters are expensive to manufacture due to the fact that they use precious metals such as palladium, rhodium, silver and platinum to convert harmful emissions. Currently, these metals account for between 60 and 70% of the cost manufacturing catalytic converters, with a design that has been in use since the 1940s. The research seeks to design an efficient catalytic converter that uses a cheaper and less metal nanoparticles synthesized via a green method.

  1. Expected Results

It is expected that the catalytic converter designed using copper nanoparticles synthesized via a green method will provide an efficient and cost-effective converter with advantages of fuel save, based on its design.

  1. Significance and Impact of the Research

Today, development of alternative energy sources and increasing environmental pollution have become critical societal challenges (Diallo, et al., 2014). Increasing concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases mainly associated with combustion of fossil fuels has created a serious risk for the global climate system, causing environmental imbalance and increased greenhouse effect (Durairajan, et al., 2012). The automobile industry and other internal combustion engines that use fossil fuels have significantly contributed to pollution through emissions of gases such as CO, HC and NOx. These primary emissions have a direct hazardous effect on the environment. They also undergo a series of chemical reactions in the atmosphere and become hazardous to health (Zhao, 2009). For instance, CO is oxidized to CO2, which cause abrupt climate patterns resulting to serious problems to mankind, such as acid rain, global warming, odors, smog, and health and respiratory hazards. Inhaling CO hinders supply of oxygen in the bl ood system to body tissues, leading to ailments. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be urgently controlled to slow down potentially dangerous global climate change that will otherwise be irreversible, as well as health hazards. Conversion of CO2 to environmentally-friendly chemicals and fuel provides the best solution to tackle environmental and energy challenges together (Chaturvedi, et al., 2012).

In this proposed study, a nano-catalytic converter is designed to control air pollution caused by exhaust engines. The new design will use Cu nanoparticles as catalysts to reduce harmful emissions. These Cu nanoparticles will be synthesized by a green method. The success of this project could significantly lower the costs for automobile manufacturing and manufacture of devices that are required to have catalytic converters, and also cut fuel consumption.

  1. Research Methodology

The main idea behind this work will be to create a nano-cat structure with maximum surface area exposed to a stream of exhaust gases from automobiles and industrial plants, using a minimum amount of nano-catalyst. The converter uses a reduction and an oxidation catalysts. The nano-catalyst works by increasing the rate of chemical reaction through adsorption of reactants in a form that the activation energy required for the reaction to occur is lower than in the case where no catalyst is used (Mukesh & N.K., 2012). Thus, converting harmful exhaust gases into harmless gases.


This is a process that involves use of a chemical substance (a catalyst) to modify the rate of a chemical reaction (Tao, 2014). The catalyst participates in a chemical reaction through interaction with one or more of the chemical reactants present, but it is not consumed in the reaction or become part of the final product, rather it is regenerated for re-use (Deepak & Thakur, 2015). Internal combustion engines in automobiles can use nanoparticles of copper metal to increase the rate of chemical reactions of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide to convert them into non-toxic emissions (Thakur & Saikhedkar, 2013).

Synthesis of Cu nanoparticles

Stable and dispersed Cu nanoparticles will be synthesized by employing an eco-friendly (green) method. This synthetic route will involve chemical reduction of Copper (II) Chloride (CuSO4 may also be used) using cheap, non-toxic capping agents such as ascorbic acid. In this technique, ascorbic acid acts as both reducing and capping agent, while cupric acid will be used as precursor. The advantage of this method is that it does not require use of electricity and it can be used in large scale production of Cu nanoparticles (Deepak & Thakur, 2016). This will be the novelty of this project.

The nanoparticles prepared will be used as catalysts in the redox reactions. Characterization of the nanoparticles made will be done through X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry. The nano-sized copper particles will be deposited on the microscopic channels of the catalytic converter.

Catalytic converter

This is a device that reduces the toxicity of chemical emissions coming from an internal combustion engine by converting them into less toxic substances. It is the most effective process for the treatment and reduction of engine emissions (Thakur & Saikhedkar, 2013). The converter will consist of a ceramic block with a honeycomb structure with microscopic channels in the interior coated with copper nanoparticles over which the gasses will flow. The design is intended to be fuel efficient by preventing back pressure built by exhaust gases. The base material of the ceramic block will be made of alumina material to withstand high temperature. The converter will perform 3 tasks at the same time:

  1. Reduction of NOx to oxygen and nitrogen

Designing a Nano-Cat for Catalytic Conversion and Environmental Remediation xO2 + N2

  1. Oxidation of CO to CO2

2CO + O2Designing a Nano-Cat for Catalytic Conversion and Environmental Remediation 1 2CO2

  1. Oxidation of unburnt HC to CO2 and water

CxH2x + 2xO2Designing a Nano-Cat for Catalytic Conversion and Environmental Remediation 2 xCO2 + 2xH2O

  1. Materials needed to complete the research

The following list of materials will be required to complete this research work:

  • Copper (II) Chloride, De-ionized water, ascorbic acid and cupric acid.

  • Ceramic block and alumina

  • Exhaust flow from a C.I engine

  • A gas analyzer to measure the amount and concentration of gas emissions before and after implementation of the catalytic converter.


Chaturvedi, S., Dave, P. N. & Shah, N., 2012. Applications of nano-catalyst in new era. Journal of Saudi Chemical Society, Volume 16, p. 307–325.

Deepak, S. S. K. & Thakur, D. M., 2015. Methods Of Pollution Control Using Nano-Particles. International Journal of Advanced Engineering Research and Studies, pp. 215-217.

Deepak, S. S. K. & Thakur, D. M., 2016. 2nd International Seminar On “Utilization of Non-Conventional Energy Sources for Sustainable Development of Rural Areas (ISNCESR’16). India, Parthivi College of Engineering & Management.

Deepak, S. & Thakur, M., 2016. Post pollution control Method for C. I. Engine automobiles using Nanocoated Catalytic converter. Research Journal of Engineering Sciences, 5(3), pp. 14-16.

Diallo, M. S., Fromer, N. A. & Jhon, M. S., 2014. Nanotechnology for Sustainable Development. s.l.:Springer Science & Business.

Durairajan, A., Kavitha, T., Rajendran, A. & Kumaraswamidhas, L. A., 2012. Design and Manufacturing of Nano Catalytic Converter for Pollution Control in Automobiles for Green Environment. Indian Journal of Innovations and Developments, 1(5), pp. 314-319.

Mukesh, T. & N.K., S., 2012. Reduction of Pollutant Emission from Two-wheeler Automobiles using Nano-particle as a Catalyst. Research Journal of Engineering Sciences , 1(3), pp. 32-37.

N.Kanthavelkumaran, P.Seenikannan & C.Bibin, 2013. Investigational Study and Manage the Poisonous Emissions in IC Engines by Nano Materials. Life Science Journal, 10(3), pp. 102-108.

Sharma, P. D., 2013. SOUVENIR of 3rd International Science Congress ISC-2013. s.l.:International E Publication.

Tao, F., 2014. Metal Nanoparticles for Catalysis: Advances and Applications. s.l.:Royal Society of Chemistry.

Thakur, M. & Saikhedkar, N., 2013. Improved and Latest Design of a Nanosized Catalytic Converter for Pollution Prevention Implemented to Four Stroke Engine with Experimental Validation. International Journal of Environmental Science: Development and Monitoring (IJESDM), 4(2), pp. 24-30.

Thakur, M. & Saikhedkar, N. K., 2012. Control Of Exhaust Emissions Using Nanosized Copper Metal Spray In The Catalytic Converter For Two Stroke Spark Ignition Engine. International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA), 2(5), pp. 1947-1952.

Thakur, M. & Saikhedkar, N. K., 2013. Behavioral Modeling and Simulation with Experimental Analysis of a Two Stroke Engine Using Nanosized Copper Coated Catalytic Converter. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, Volume 59, pp. 97-112.

Zhao, J., 2009. Turning to Nanotechnology for Pollution Control: Applications of Nanoparticles. Available at:
[Accessed 20 November 2016].