A study in the reduction of efficiency of nitrogen oxide removal catalysts for automobiles
Automotive catalysts are the most effective short-term answer to air pollution from automobiles. Since strict control of exhaust emissions is, or will be,covered by legislation in most developed countries in the world, catalytic devices will be increasingly fitted to cars. There is consequently an urgent need for the development of catalysts that will not compete for scarce precious metal resources. A number of problems have already been identified in connection with base metal catalysts but quantitative investigations are lacking. The base metal reduction catalysts developed by Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, catalysts and Chemical Group, in collaboration with the Air Pollution Control Laboratory, B L Cars Limited for automotive emission control, are susceptible to de-activation by three major mechanisms. These are: physical loss of the wash-coat (a high surface area coating which supports the active species), aggregation of the active species and poisoning by fuel and engine oil additives. This thesis is especially concerned with the first two of these and attempts to indicate the relative magnitude .of their effect on the activity of. the catalysts. Aggregation of the active species or sintering, as it is loosely called, was studied by using impregnated granules to overcome effects due to the loss of the wash-coat. Samples were aged in a synthetic exhaust gas, free from poisons, and metal crystallite sizes were measured by scanning-electron microscopy. The increase in particle size was correlated with the loss in catalytic activity. In order to maintain a link with the real conditions of service a number of monolithic catalysts were tested in an engine-dynamometer and several previously tested endurance catalysts were examined. A mechanism is proposed for the break-up and subsequent 10s.5 of the wash-coat and suggestions for improved resistance to loss of the' coating and active species are proposed.