The EU has awarded €4 million (US$5 million) to a new research project that will develop doped carbon nanostructures to replace precious metals needed in catalysis: FREECATS - Doped carbon nanostructures as metal-free catalysts.
FREECATS has chosen to focus on three applications where metal-free catalysts can replace metal-based catalysts: fuel cell technology; the production of light olefins; and water purification.
The research is intended to help make the production of chemicals and global commodities greener, while enabling the European process industry to keep a competitive edge. Nine European research institutions and technology enterprises are working on FREECATS, coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Professor Magnus Rønning from the Catalysis group at the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering is leading the effort, which started on 1 April 2012 and will last for three years.
Metal-free materials with catalysis properties that are equally as good as precious metals do not exist naturally, so FREECATS is aimed at developing new materials. Using nanotechnology, with atoms as building blocks, we can build carbon structures capable of binding or transforming substances in desired ways.—Magnus Rønning