LADCA team of SusChemA is a partner in the EU FP7 collaborative project NextGenCat: Development of Next Generation Cost-Efficient Automotive Catalysts. The main objective of NEXTGENCAT proposal is the development of novel eco-friendly nano-structured automotive catalysts utilizing transition metal nanoparticles (Cu, Ni, Co Zn, Fe etc) that can partially or completely replace the PGMs. Based on nanotechnology, low cost nanoparticles will be incorporated into different substrates, including advanced ceramics (SiO2, perovskite etc) and silicon carbides, for the development of efficient and inexpensive catalysts. The main idea of the proposal is the effective dispersion and the controllable size of the metal nanoparticles into the substrate that will lead to improved performance. To this end a modified polyol process as well as chemical and physical treatment of selected substances will enable the introduction of transition metal nanoparticles on the catalyst substrate precursors via adsorption and ion-exchange. The presence of metal ions sorbed on fixed precursor sites will inhibit the agglomeration during heating and final products with very fine particle dispersion and tuneable metal content will be obtained. It is expected that the developed catalysts will exhibit increased catalytic performance, even at low temperatures (200-250°C).
Other key properties of the proposed nanostructured catalysts include: increased thermal stability (avoiding aggregation), improved durability, capability of reuse and recovery of transition metals as well as low health and environmental impact.
Apart from the scientific innovations and the environmental impact, the proposal holds also great economic importance. Taking into account that the autocatalyst industry uses extremely large quantities of precious metal-68% of Pt and 72% of Pd in Europe – the impact of replacing PGMs is of tremendous significance. Based on the current metal prices, it is estimated that the developed catalysts will reduce the catalyst cost at about 40-50%, opening the way to an efficient adaptation of nanotechnology-based catalysts in the automotive sector.