With further development this technology, which employs a Fe-TAML activator, may provide an attractive alternative to existing methods that rid fuels of sulfur contaminants, which are associated with serious human health problems and contribute to acid rain. These same contaminants also cause engines to burn fuel less efficiently.
Results of this laboratory research will be presented by Colin Horwitz, research associate professor at Carnegie Mellon, on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the 226th annual meeting of the American Chemical Society (paper 160, "Oxidation of sulfur compounds in fuels using Fe-TAML activators and hydrogen peroxide," Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Division). This research was funded by the Department of Energy.
"We are working to develop Fe-TAML activators to clean fuels to the point where they will comply with stringent EPA sulfur standards slated to go into effect by 2006," said Horwitz. "This technology could aid significantly in the development of cleaner burning, more fuel-efficient automobile engines."
Most diesel fuels on the market in the United States contain 500 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur contaminants. By approximately 2010, the EPA will require all transportation fuels to contain no more than 30 ppm of these pollutants. Sulfur contaminants interfere with other technologies designed to prevent release of soot particles. As a result, these particles are released into exhaust fumes, along with sulfur contaminants (sulfur oxides). The particles have been linked to asthma, while sulfur oxides contribute to acid rain.
Fe-TAMLs (TAML stands for tetra-amido macrocyclic ligand) are synthetic catalysts made with elements found in nature.