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Institute for Integrated Catalysis

Getting Clear about Clean Air

PNNL researchers identified the molecular structure that breaks down an important component of smog

(August 2019)

Clear About Clean Air

Nitrogen oxides, also known as NOx, form when fossil fuels burn at high temperatures. When emitted from industrial sources such as coal power plants, these pollutants react with other compounds to produce harmful smog. To mitigate these NOx emissions, engineers developed a process called selective catalytic reduction (SCR) where NOx passes through a converter, or air scrubber, that transforms the dangerous chemical into harmless nitrogen gas.

While SCR is not new, the underlying chemistry of the metal oxides used in the process remained unknown&emdash;until now. A research team led by PNNL chemist Jian Zhi Hu, along with collaborators from multiple universities, has described decisively how the metal oxides are arranged. Read more ...

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