Researchers at the Center for Research and Technological Development in Electrochemistry (CIDETEQ) in Mexico are involved in developing a catalyst to enhance natural gas combustion, as well as to enable reduction of about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions which occur during industrial processes.
The research team was headed by Jorge Morales Hernandez, who explained that the project will be mainly focusing on the efficient use of energy and natural gas. He added that there is a possibility that they will explore other levels as well. "We propose the system, on a larger consumer scale, to industries requiring natural gas production such as cement or window makers and on a smaller scale to the automotive sector."
In 2013, nearly 75,000 tons of CO2 was emitted. This project, with its 40% reduction plan, could enable 30,000 tons to be reduced only in the power generation sector. Hernandez states that if this is implemented in glass or cement manufacture, it would prove to be highly valuable as well as have a positive economic impact.
The CIDETEQ research is being carried out in two phases. The initial one would involve crucial research wherein a metal-ceramic material is developed to be used as a support for the catalyst. It will constitute borides and nitrides of titanium, as these elements offer very good thermal stability. A controlled nanoparticle dispersion of platinum and palladium occurs with the aid of the support structure, which enable the catalytic combustion of natural gas.
Titanium is a key element in this technology as it is capable of handling extreme temperatures of around 3000 °C. The metal base is thus thermally stable and allows controlled vaporization of platinum and palladium nanoparticles to occur.
This will boost the combustion technique by raising the flame temperature of the mixture in combustion. This will subsequently decrease natural gas consumption, and cause emissions of greenhouse gases to be lowered.
"Thus, the catalyst is made of titanium -as support- and a reagent or active material (platinum and palladium) of manometric size. Then both are joined on an industrial scheme for application in various industries," indicated Morales Hernández.
The catalyst will find use in cement, glass, automotive and steel sectors, where natural gas is widely used. The basic design of the catalyst comprises a porous material, which can be fitted in industrial burners.
Hernandez hopes to test the catalyst practically with the help of a company or government agency interested in this technology. This testing would help the team to observe the catalyst’s rate of maturation and they could then carry out technological and commercial development.
The research is under evaluation at the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) in Mexico, through the National Endowment for the solution of national problems.