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Thermally stable nonporous gold for improved automotive catalytic converters

Project description

Investing in gold could be good for your health and the environment

Engines warm up after the ignition is turned on and particularly while the vehicle is in motion. While this is of benefit to cats lucky enough to find a freshly parked car on a cold winter night, it has been an obstacle to increasing the performance of catalytic converters. Gold nanoparticles have superior catalytic capability compared to currently used platinum group metals, particularly at lower temperatures, and could therefore significantly decrease toxic emissions during engine ignition. However, they lose their activity at elevated temperatures at which the conventional materials do an excellent job. The EU-funded np-Gold project is developing ways to integrate bulk gold with nanopores into converter products instead. It exhibits the same catalytic properties as gold nanoparticles at lower temperatures and withstands the heat during driving, a winning combination for our health and the environment.


70% of the toxic gasses emitted from automotive exhaust systems originates from the first 60 seconds of the cold start. Severe health effects are associated with air pollution from motor vehicles. In fact, it causes 6% of total mortality per annum, half of which is attributed to vehicle emissions. Current catalytic converter technology relies on expensive platinum group metals (Pt, Pd, Rh) which are very effective in oxidizing these toxic gases at elevated engine working temperatures, however, they completely fail to catalytically convert the gases at temperatures of cold starts. Nanoparticles of gold are well known for their superior catalytic capabilities at low temperatures. Nevertheless, they have never been integrated into the catalytic converter technologies because of their tendency to coarsen at elevated temperatures and lose their catalytic activity. We have developed nanoporous gold (np-Gold) that has the same catalytic activity as that of gold nanoparticles but is thermally stable at elevated temperatures. This is due to the fact, that we form our np-Gold from a eutectic Au-Ge alloy and in the form of single crystals. The elimination of grain boundaries as well as more energetically stable facets of np-Gold removes the rapid diffusion routes leading to the coarsening of the nanoporosity and renders np-Gold thermal stability. This makes our np-Gold a promising candidate to solve the current problem of cold start catalysis. We trust that our np-Gold solution will make a great positive impact on the environment and society by lowering the levels of air pollution and occurrence of diseases attributed to toxic cold start vehicle emissions. We propose herein to study how we can incorporate our np-Gold into current catalytic converter products by replacing some of the current catalysts or incorporating as an add-on component to the existing technology.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
32000 Haifa

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)