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Environmental Catalysis & Chemistry

Environmental Catalysis & Chemistry Researchers

Since its inception the Centre has been involved in the development and testing of catalysts for the selective reduction of NOx, a topic in which Prof. Julian Ross has been engaged since the early eighties and in which he is considered to be a world expert. 

Early work in the CER was concerned with the use of ammonia as selective reduction and the application of zirconia-based vanadia catalysts for the simultaneous removal of chlorinated hydrocarbons and NOx.  More recently, interest in the CER has been transferred to the selective reduction of NOx using hydrocarbons as reductants for the exhaust streams from lean-burn engines (engines giving reduced CO2 emissions compared with more conventional ones), the work having been funded by the EU Environmental Programme (Framework 3).  Although very active and selective catalysts (producing nitrogen with 100% selectivity) have been identified and these materials are resistant to the water vapour and CO2 present in the car exhaust, these materials are not resistant to the traces of  SO2 found in the exhaust streams.  This recognition has led to other projects in which other strategies for the control of NOx are being examined (Framework 4). These include the use of novel nano-structured or membrane materials to separate out the functions of the selective catalyst or the development of NOx and SOx traps.  A new project is about to commence (Framework 5) on the development of additives for fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts which will bring about a reduction of the NOx emissions from the regenerators of FCC plants. This NOx is formed largely by the combustion of nitrogen-containing coke formed on the catalysts during the cracking process. This effort has been paralleled by more fundamental studies of the selective reduction of NO by propylene in which the surface processes occurring during the NOx process have been examined. Of particular importance here has been work carried out on Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy (DRIFTS) of the catalyst surfaces under reaction conditions which has clearly demonstrated the importance of the formation of nitro compounds on the catalyst surface.

The centre is keen on co-operating with both academy of industries.  Our current research partners are across the globe (e.g. France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Denmark and the U.S.A).