Application Overview: The automotive industry spends over $10B annually on platinum group metals (PGMs) for catalytic converters. PGMs are critical to the functionality of vehicle emission control devices. In a typical system, as the exhaust stream passes over these PGMs, harmful gases such as CO, HC, and NOX are converted into less harmful CO2, N2, and H20. A key objective in catalyst design is to lower the exhaust temperature at which these conversions take place — the so called light-off temperature — and to maintain catalytic performance throughout the drive cycle. Higher catalyst activity and stability result in lower light-off temperatures and an improved overall emissions profile. Catalyst design can also have a direct impact on fuel economy. Many modern engineering techniques for improving fuel economy result in lower exhaust temperatures. If a catalyst is not active at the reduced exhaust temperature, it may not be possible to realize the mileage improvement.
Critical Issues: To get the most performance at the lowest cost, automotive catalyst developers constantly strive to maximize the surface area of PGMs (through smaller particle sizes) and minimize mobility of that material over the life of the catalytic converter. Traditional methods have been successful in the former, but have reached a limit in restricting mobility. As the catalyst heats up during vehicle operation, the PGM material becomes mobile and begins to agglomerate, or come back together. This phenomenon increases the average particle size which decreases overall surface area, which in turn decreases catalytic activity. To counter this effect with traditional methods, catalyst manufacturers must start with high PGM loadings so that as the catalyst ages, sufficient surface area remains to continue to meet emission requirements. This can be effective only to a limit. As the concentration of PGM is increased within a fixed size catalytic system, a point of diminishing (or detrimental), returns occurs as agglomeration potential increases.
SDC Solution: SDCmaterials has developed a unique materials processing & integration capability that delivers active-catalyst materials with superior reaction properties. Our NanoParticle Synthesis System and Integration technologies have enabled us to create a high performance composite Nano-on-Nano™ catalyst specifically designed for automotive applications. Because of our unique design and fabrication process, SDCmaterials' catalysts have tremendous active surface area with dramatically reduced mobility. As a result, our catalysts demonstrate substantially better aged light-off temperatures and MVEG drive cycle performance compared to catalysts manufactured using traditional methods. Our customers take advantage of these catalytic properties through reduced light-off temperatures or reduced PGM loadings.
Although our process for developing and manufacturing catalyst material is novel, the form factor of our end product is not. Our catalysts are compatible with existing industry coating processes and end products.