A new composite material to clean polluted air

New Material

Carbon monoxide is a major air pollutant posing threat to human health. A team of scientists led by researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar have developed a nanocomposite material that can selectively convert environmental carbon monoxide into less toxic carbon dioxide.

To tackle the rising CO level, these scientists have developed a new composite material which is made of graphene and alloy of platinum and palladium in the form of nanoparticles. The use of metal particle of certain orientation which absorb or interact with CO at lower energy helped the conversion.

Graphene was used as substrate and then ‘decorated’ with alloy nanoparticles of platinum and palladium. The novel catalytic structure was then used for selective oxidation of CO into CO2. The use of metal particle of certain orientation which absorb or interact with CO at lower energy helped the conversion.

While speaking to India Science Wire, Dr Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, from IIT Gandhinagar explained, “Once integrated, it is the size and shape of the nanoparticles that controls the catalytic efficiency of the hybrid material. The efficiency of any catalyst depends on availability of active sites and surface area of nanoparticles. Therefore, engineering the morphology of alloy nanoparticles and their integration with graphene is critical to achieve catalytic performance.”

The study was done by researchers from IIT Gandhinagar, in collaboration with scientists from IIT Kanpur and University of Campinas, Brazil. The research results have been published in journal Nanoscale of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

“While platinum and palladium on their own are active catalysts, alloying them with graphene does wonders. The hybrid has shown high adsorption and reaction due to synergism among the three,” said Prof. Sudhanshu Sharma, from IIT Gandhinagar.

According to Tiwary, the behaviour of the nanocomposite was studied using different morphologies for the oxidation of carbon monoxide. The conversion rate varied along with the flow rate of CO as well as temperature, showing full conversion at temperatures ranging from 75 to 125 degrees.

“The initial results are exciting, and, on the basis of it we are trying to build 3D porous architecture using such hybrid for practical applications and at room temperature,” Dr Tiwary said.

The new material could potentially find use in chemical industries as well as environmental cleaning, researchers said.