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A catalyst can be defined as a material or substance that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction, without being consumed by the reaction itself.
One of the most fascinating things about catalysis by gold is the low “light off” temperatures that are obtained (in other words, the temperature at which the catalyst becomes functional). This allows gold to be utilized in the following low-temperature applications:
- Respirators for protection from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
- Pollution control in living spaces
The above applications are explained in the following sections.
Respirators for Protection from CO Poisoning
Respirators are essential in emergency situations for safeguarding miners and firefighters from CO poisoning near fires, boilers, etc. in both domestic and working environments. One such device is manufactured by Novax Materials, using gold catalyst technology.
Pollution Control in Living Spaces
Gold catalysts become highly active when several components are oxidized in ambient air at low temperatures, specifically CO and nitrogen-containing malodorous compounds like trimethylamine. This ability provides scope for applications associated with odor control and air quality improvement, whether in transport, buildings, or other related applications.
Air-cleaning devices are required for eliminating CO as well as trace amounts of ozone and VOCs from ambient air in indoor office spaces (caused by smoking etc.) and in confined spaces like submarines or spacecraft that are on long missions. This is a very crucial issue and the scope here for commercial applications is very high; significant patents have also been published.
At the commercial level, gold catalysts have already been used in Japan for removing odors from toilets. Additionally, the gold on iron oxide catalyst is being utilized to oxidize odorous compounds containing nitrogen.