How To Neutralize Poisonous Carbon Monoxide

Scientists from the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) in Japan have developed a sustainable method to neutralize carbon monoxide, the odorless poison produced by cars and home boilers.

Traditionally, carbon monoxide needs a noble metal – a rare and expensive ingredient – to convert into carbon dioxide and readily dissipate into the atmosphere. Although the noble metal ensures structural stability at a variety of temperatures, it’s a cost-prohibitive and finite resource and researchers have been anxious to find an alternative.

Now, a team led by Dr. Teruaki Fuchigami at the NITech has developed a raspberry-shaped nanoparticle capable of the same oxidation process that makes carbon monoxide gain an extra oxygen atom and lose its most potent toxicity.

Synthesis of cobalt oxide particles with complex, three-dimensional, raspberry-shaped nanostructures via hydrothermal treatment. Sodium sulfates functioned as bridging ligands to promote self-assembly and suppress particle growth. The highly ordered and complex surface nanostructure with 7-8 nm in diameter shows good structural stability and high activity in CO oxidation reaction.

We found that the raspberry-shaped particles achieve both high structural stability and high reactivity even in a single nanoscale surface structure,” said Dr. Fuchigami, an assistant professor in the Department of Life Science and Applied Chemistry at the NITech and first author on the paper.

The key, according to Dr. Fuchigami, is ensuring the particles are highly complex but organized. A single, simple particle can oxidize carbon monoxide, but it will naturally join with other simple particles. Those simple particles compact together and lose their oxidation abilities, especially as temperatures rise in an engine or boiler. Catalytic nanoparticles with single nano-scale and complex three-dimensional (3D) structures can achieve both high structural stability and high catalytic activity.

Th results were featured on the cover of the September issue of the journal, Nanomaterials.