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Splitting water into its constituent elements – hydrogen and oxygen – is actually pretty simple. All you have to do is pass an electric current through it and the molecules will break up ... slowly. Doing it efficiently requires the addition of a catalyst. Unfortunately, as in so many chemical reactions, the best catalyst is platinum – which happens to be extremely expensive (currently about $2,000 an ounce).

When it comes to sugar and cars, there's a type of cellulosic ethanol made from sugarcane, much of which is produced in Brazil. However, researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) have developed a catalyst that breaks glucose molecules in such a way that electrons, and therefore electricity, can be obtained. This research means there is the possibility of a "sweet" type of fuel cell. The catalyst was obtained from a herbicide that helps break the sugar down and liberates electrons. The proces

Believe it or not, catalysts were not mandatory in European gasoline-powered cars until 1988. The reason behind that was that the fuel consumption of European cars, noticeably lower than their American counterparts, was considered less of a harm. Then there is the EU (formerly EC) rule of making all decisions unanimously, which with France and Italy on one side and Germany on the other didn't make the process easy. We're seeing a rehash of this in the current discussion on CO2 limits. Compared t

Catalytic converters are quite common for gasoline engines but diesel catalysts are less known, in part because they face greater challenges. Still, diesel catalysts have not disappeared because they are efficient and, when you start your car, they don't produce heaps of CO2. Their main problem is the large amount of carbon particulates (soot) and nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gas. Standard three-way converters are not effective because of the high oxygen content of these gases. BASF is on the

Mazda has been working on fibers made from plant sources and destined for car interiors for a while now. Back in early September, Mazda announced it was working on such a biofabric with Teijin Ltd and Teijin Fibers Ltd. This new biotech material was then shown at the Tokyo Motor Show as part of the seat covers and door trim in the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid. Mazda is pleased with the material's ability to resist abrasion and sun damage and apparently sees a future for these sorts of fabrics; th

Nissan has developed a new catalyst for its gasoline-powered cars that requires only half the amount of precious metals that current designs call for. The catalyst or catalytic converter is a piece of the exhaust system filled with a mix of platinum, rhodium and palladium that captures harmful toxins in a car's exhaust such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons by triggering a chemical reaction.

A team of investigators leaded by Victor Lin, from Iowa State university and program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, have developed a nanosphere-based catalyst claimed to be revolutionary for biodiesel production. Current methods use sodium methoxide – a toxic, corrosive and flammable catalyst – which must be removed using acid neutralization, water washes and separations. This catalyst is mostly lost during the process.

Diesel Technology Forum has released a new PDF white paper designed to give diesel users a comprehensive overview of how diesel technology and regulations are changing to reduce diesel emissions. Covered are the new diesel emissions standards and the introduction of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD), as well as a number of techniques that can be used for upgrading existing diesel engines to reduce emissions.

Yesterday, PhysOrg reported on the recently published fuel cell research of two Los Alamos scientists, Rajesh Bashyam and Piotr Zelenay, in the scientific journal Nature. Searching for a low-cost alternative to platinum, the duo developed a composite consisting of cobalt, polymer and carbon. The new catalysts weren't able to produce as much electrical energy as its platinum-based counterpart, however, the composite exhibited "exceptional performance stability" during a 100-hour test session.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a variety of rules that it might apply to urea injection for diesel engines, and is said to ready to issue rules for such emission-control devices in upcoming weeks. The regulations are expected to address potential issues arising with urea injection, such as the availability of the substance, making sure that the system and its low-fluid-level warning system are tamperproof, and dealing with urea's freezing point of 11F. One of the largest area

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