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In A New Breakthrough Scientists Have Developed Diesel That Emits Much Less CO2

Here is a new approach to the production of fuels discovered by the researchers of KU Leuven and the Utrecht University – something which is going to make all pro-environment activists (that should be all of us, right?) happy. Why? New method which can produce far cleaner diesel. To top it all, it can be easily and quickly calibrated to make it compatible with industrial usage. Who knows, it is quite possible that within the next ten years or so, we may actually encounter cars running on this new, cleaner and much more environmentally friendly diesel.

Fuel is produced with the help of catalysts which set off the chemical reactions necessary to turn raw materials into the fuel. When it comes to the production of diesel, small granules of such catalysts are added to the raw materials in a way that usable fuel can be produced; some catalysts can “handle” only one function, while others can be multifunctional.

For the purpose of this study, the catalysts used for the production of clean diesel are created with two different chemicals having two different functions – platinum, a metal, and an acid in solid form. During the production of diesel, the molecules jump around between the acid and the metal. Every time one of these molecules comes in touch with either the metal or the acid, it changes a bit. By the end of the production process, the molecules are ready to be used as functional diesel.

In general, it is believed that the closer the acid in solid form and the metal is to each other, the better, because it would speed up the production process by making the molecules bounce to and from much faster. However, Professor Johan Martens of KU Leuven and Professor Krijn de Jong of Utrecht University have just discovered that this is nothing but a myth; in fact, the further apart these two chemicals are from each other, the cleaner the fuel would be. To make sure that the current theory is indeed wrong and their serendipity is not just a fluke, they repeated the same experiment three times, only to arrive at the same conclusion each time. The results were contrary to the popular belief prevalent in the fuel industry that there has to be a minimum distance between the two chemicals, or let us rather say, the two catalysts, in order to enable better production of the fuel. If the two chemicals are nanometers apart from each other, then indeed the produced fuel turns out to be much better and cleaner than otherwise.

This new method of fuel production, as devised by Professor Johan Martens of KU Leuven and Professor Krijn de Jong of Utrecht University, can be used to optimize some of the molecules present in diesel. The great thing about this diesel is that automobiles which run on this cleaner diesel would emit far less particulates and carbon dioxide and in 5 to 10 years, we may see the first cars being driven by this newer, cleaner diesel.

Novel method can be utilized to petroleum-based fuels as well as to renewable carbon from biomass.

This study was published in Nature under Nanoscale intimacy in bifunctional catalysts for selective conversion of hydrocarbons.

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Dean Smith