The combustion of hydrocarbon fuels within the automotive industry results in harmful and reactive incomplete combustion byproducts. Specifically, nitric oxide emissions (NO) lead to increased smog, acid rain, climate change, and respiratory inflammation within the population [Nitrogen Dioxide | American Lung Association]. Current methods for treating combustion exhaust include the catalytic converter in conjunction with nitrogen oxide traps. However, there is no active, continuous reduction method that does not require restrictions on the combustion environment (Hirata in Catal Surv Asia 18:128–133, 2014). Here, a small voltage potential oscillation across a newly designed electro-chemical catalytic membrane significantly reduces NO emissions. A ceramic membrane consisting of two dissimilar metal electrodes, sandwiching a dielectric layer, is able to achieve an NO reduction in excess of 2X that of a platinum group metal (PGM) three way catalytic converter. An analysis of the exhaust effluent from the membranes indicates N2O as a precursor to N2 and O2 formation, without the introduction of ammonia (NH3), during the reaction of NO indicating a divergence from current literature. Our results demonstrate how an oscillatory electric potential on a catalytic surface may alter anticipated reaction chemistry and interaction between the catalytic surface and fluid flow.
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