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New Diesel Releases Far Less CO2: Cleaner Fuel On The Way

First Posted: Dec 10, 2015 03:22 PM EST

Researchers have created a new technique that can produce cleaner fuels. The KU Leuven and Utrecht University researchers' new method can be used to produce clean diesel, which can be commercialized, according to a study.

Fuel production requires catalysts, which are known for speeding chemical reactions, which converts raw material into fuel. When diesel is produced, small catalyst granules are mixed with the raw material, which changes the molecules of the raw material to create a usable fuel.

The researchers used a catalyst that has two functions and is represented by two distinctive materials, one is a solid-state acid and the other is a metal (platinum). In the production process, the molecule move back and forth between the metal and the acid. As the molecules interact with each of the materials, it gradually changes and by the end of the process the molecules can be used for diesel fuel. When the functions within a catalyst are nanometres apart, it creates better molecules for cleaner fuel.

"Our results are the exact opposite of what we had expected. At first, we thought that the samples had been switched or that something was wrong with our analysis", Professor Johan Martens from KU Leuven, said in a news release. "We repeated the experiments three times, only to arrive at the same conclusion. There has to be a minimum distance between the functions within a catalyst. This goes against what the industry has been doing for the past 50 years."

The researchers' new technique can improve a number of molecules in diesel and cars that are fueled with the clean diesel would release less CO2 and particles. The researchers' new diesel could have numerous industrial uses and cars can be fuel with this clean diesel in another five to 10 years.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Nature.

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