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Leuven scientists develop diesel that emits less CO2

10:00 11/12/2015

Scientists from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), in collaboration with colleagues from Utrecht University, have developed a method to produce diesel fuel that would cause cars to emit far less CO2 and fine dust.

Catalysts are used in the production of petrol to trigger the chemical reactions that convert raw material into fuel. The catalyst used for this study has two functions, represented by two materials: a metal and a solid acid. During the production process for diesel, the molecules bounce between the metal and the acid. Each time a molecule comes into contact with one of the materials, it changes a little.

Scientist have always assumed that the metal and the solid acid in the catalyst should be as close together as possible for a fast production process. But the Flemish and Dutch researchers have discovered that if the functions within a catalyst are a certain number of nanometres apart, better molecules for cleaner fuel are created.

“There has to be a minimum distance between the functions within a catalyst,” said professor Johan Martens of KU Leuven in a statement. “This goes against what the industry has been doing for the past 50 years.”

With the new technique, molecules in diesel can be optimised, and cars would emit far fewer fine dust particles and CO2. The researchers expect the new diesel to be available in five to 10 years.

Written by Andy Furniere