The methane is a natural gas and is among the fossil fuels more respectful of the environment. In Italy, half of theelectric energy produced is obtained by burning natural gas, in addition, methane is used extensively for domestic heating and for some time also in the transport sector. Italians are major consumers of methane and it is precisely from Italy that the discovery comes: a more efficient catalyst to optimize combustion and reduce pollution and consumption.
The study was carried out by the group of Paolo Fornasiero Head of the Institute of Chemistry of Organometallic Compounds of the CNR and professor at the University of Trieste. The catalyst created by Paolo Fornasiero's team manages to burn methane in optimal motion at low temperatures so as not to release nitrogen oxides, powerful greenhouse gases. Not only more efficient but also cheaper, the catalyst reduces the use of Palladium, a very expensive element.
Burn the methane at low temperatures it was possible by setting up a catalyst formed by microspheres with active metal and palladium in the central part, this portion is surrounded by a protective porous layer of cerium oxide. The whole nanostructure it is able to reduce the content of the expensive palladium and in addition increase the catalysis activity by 30 times.
With the catalyst made in Italy methane can already be completely burned at 400 degrees, drastically reducing the production of nitrogen oxides. The pollution caused by the emission of unburned hydrocarbons is also reduced.
The development of the project was carried out thanks to the collaboration of Professor Paolo Fornasiero with the University of Pennsylvania (Upenn) of Philadelphia, in particular with Professor Raymond J. Gorte, who has been working in synergy with the Trieste professor for years. The study was published entirely in the famous journal Science, from which the illustration above is derived.