• Jun 29, 2010
Panasonic aims to purify exhaust gas from diesel engines in the most environmentally friendly way possible with its newly-designed alkali metal-based catalyst for decomposing particulate matter. According to Panasonic, the alkali metal compound accelerates the oxidation of particulate matter while substantially reducing the need for high-priced platinum. As Panasonic claims, its new alkali metal catalyst can effectively reduce platinum use to one-fifth the amount currently used by other methods, thus reducing costs substantially.

In addition to reducing the use of pricey platinum, Panasonic's alkali metal catalyst can also cut CO2 emissions by operating at lower temperature, thereby reducing the energy required to maintain the ideal temp for catalytic reactions. Admittedly, it's complex stuff, but we have little reason to doubt the claims. The company plans to begin mass production of its alkali metal catalyst in 2012 and hopes that the market is hot for its new technology. Panasonic targets around $223 million (converted at the current exchange rate) in sales of its new catalyst by 2018 and with the emergence of fuel-efficient diesels worldwide, Panasonic's estimates may prove to be way too low. Hat tip to Aaron!

[Source: Panasonic]

PRESS RELEASE

Panasonic Begins Shipping Samples of New Catalyst for Diesel Exhaust Gas Purification

Panasonic will reduce the cost and energy consumption of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment with the newly developed alkali metal compound.


Osaka, Japan - Panasonic Corporation announced today it has succeeded in the development of a new catalyst using an alkali metal compound to decompose and purify particulate matter in diesel engine exhaust gas[1], and has begun shipping its samples this month. As diesel emission regulations have become increasingly stringent, particularly in Japan, the US, and Europe, there are high expectations for this new catalyst as it presents a low-cost and energy-saving solution for diesel-powered vehicles.

This new alkali metal-based catalyst developed by Panasonic Ecology Systems Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation, accelerates the oxidation of particulate matter and directly decomposes them without using platinum. It provides the same level of combustion performance as a conventional platinum-based catalyst but at a lower temperature (approximately 20% lower, in-house experiment). This means less energy is required to maintain the optimum temperature for catalytic reactions, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and contributing to energy conservation. When used at the same temperature required for the conventional platinum-based catalyst, this new catalyst even increases the combustion speed.

In comparison, the current mainstream diesel exhaust treatment equipment uses platinum as the purification catalyst, making its costs more expensive and susceptible to price fluctuations. In addition, conventional equipment consumes fuel in order to maintain the temperature for catalytic reaction at an optimum level during particulate treatment, reducing the overall effect of the equipment.

Standard diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment consists of a diesel oxidation converter (DOC)[2], which removes hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO), and a catalyst-coated diesel particulate filter (DPF)[3], which removes particulate matter. With a conventional catalyst, the DOC itself also requires platinum to produce nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as the conventional catalyst cannot decompose particulate matter without the oxidation action of NO2. However, since the newly developed catalyst can directly decompose particulate matter without using NO2, the amount of platinum used in the DOC can also be significantly reduced, thereby reducing the total cost of the equipment.

In addition to using a new metal compound in the catalyst, Panasonic has devised a new catalyst coating technology to maximize the performance of the catalyst on a variety of DPF types (cordierite[4], SiC[5], metal, etc.). A new additive was also developed to solve the durability issue associated with a catalyst using alkali metal, making this new technology possible. Panasonic currently has 84 patents in Japan and 7 patents overseas, including pending applications.
[Details of the features]

1. Combust particulate matter without using platinum
The new catalyst is based on an alkali metal compound which produces active species of alkali metal in the reaction temperature range. The active species accelerate oxidation of particulate matter [mainly made of carbon (C)] and decompose them into CO2 (Fig. 1). Unlike the conventional type of catalyst, the new catalyst does not use platinum.

[Fig. 1] Principle of particulate matter (PM) combustion by the catalyst-coated DPF

2. Combust particulate matter at a low temperature
The new catalyst based on the alkali metal compound provides the same level of combustion performance as a conventional platinum-based catalyst at a lower temperature (Fig. 2). Therefore, the temperature of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment can be lowered, reducing the amount of fuel used for maintaining the temperature and enhancing the energy efficiency of the equipment.

[Fig. 2] Changes in the catalyst-coated DPF treatment speed with temperature

3. Reducing costs of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment

[Fig. 3] Structure of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment

* Diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment consists of a DOC[2], which removes hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO), and a catalyst-coated DPF[3], which removes particulate matter. With a conventional catalyst, the DOC needs platinum to produce nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Since the new catalyst can directly decompose particulate matter without using NO2, the amount of platinum used in the DOC can be significantly reduced, thereby reducing the total cost of the equipment.

[Glossary]

[1]Particulate matter in diesel engine exhaust gas
Fine substances based on carbon (C) contained in the exhaust gas from diesel engines. They are a major component of the black exhaust gas produced by diesel engines and pollute the air. Therefore, removal of particulate matter is required by regulations.

[2]DOC (Diesel Oxidation Converter)
One of the components of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment. Its function is to decompose the hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) contained in diesel engine exhaust gas. When used in combination with a conventional platinum-based catalyst-coated DPF, platinum needs to be added to the DOC to produce NO2.

[3]Catalyst-coated DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter)
One of the components of diesel exhaust gas treatment equipment. Its function is to remove the particulate matter contained in diesel engine exhaust gas. DPF is made by coating a base material with a catalyst.

[Fig. 4] DPF coated with Panasonic catalyst

[4]Cordierite
One type of ceramic material used in catalyst to process engine exhaust gas. Its relative density is light and it excels in heat capacity.

[5]SiC
One type of ceramic material used in catalyst to process engine exhaust gas. It excels in heat resistance.

About Panasonic
Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 7.42 trillion yen (US$79.4 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2010. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE: PC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at http://panasonic.net.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 4 Comments
      • 2 Days Ago
      As this is lower temperature this should also reduce pollution when the motor is first started.
        • 2 Days Ago
        and that's good. It's basically a poor man's precat.
      • 2 Days Ago
      As the graph shows (it looks executively-smoothed), all catalyst start really do something after 500ºC. That's a problem for turbo-diesels, because a big chunk of the heat is removed by the exhaust turbine.
      Also, any catalysis by temperature (gas and diesel) only works on big trips, with little impact in short city trips (it takes 5-10 mins in open road for a diesel to reach 90ºC water temp). Bringing the cat working temp down some 150ºC, at least on diesels, won't make much difference.

      On diesels, urea reactions and active exhaust recirculation really makes the most work, and at all temps.
        • 2 Days Ago
        I think the important point to take away is that it works much better than conventional technology.