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New nanostructured catalyzers without noble metals and with low content in lanthanides

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The research group working on the "Structure and chemistry of nanomaterials" has developed a new catalyzer that does not contain noble metals in its formulation, has a low content in lanthanides and presents good oxygen storage properties. These catalyzers will be of great interest for the purification of the exhaust gases of combustion engines, and in the catalysis of any reaction in which the activation of hydrogen molecules is required.

These catalyzers are applicable in any other reaction in which activation of the molecules of hydrogen is required.

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Since the 1990's, the mixed oxides of cerium and zirconium have replaced cerium oxide in the composition of the three-way catalyzers used in the automotive industry.

The fundamental reason for this is the improved textural behaviour of the oxides of Ce/Zr, compared with the effectiveness of cerium oxide. These mixed oxides are also more effective in the exchange of oxygen with the medium. The Oxygen Storage Capacity (OSC) of the compound is therefore the key property for its application as a component in catalyzers.

However, the rare earth metals which are the critical component of these catalyzers have currently increased considerably in price, due to greater demand and limited supply from the few exporting countries.


The research group working in this field has been able to obtain nanostructured oxides of Ce/Zr and Ce/Zr/Y with low content in Ce that present very good oxygen storage properties. In addition, costly noble metals are not employed in their formulation, which represents an important economic advantage.

These novel materials consist of systems in layers that have been prepared by depositing cerium oxide either onto oxide of zirconium alone or else doped with yttrium. A series of chemical-thermal treatments are subsequently applied to these systems, which gives them a high oxygen storage capacity at low temperature. Since they are able to operate efficiently at temperatures ranging from 150 to 500 ºC, their principal potential application is as three-way catalyzers: current commercial catalyzers only operate at temperatures of around 500 ºC. This represents a new additional advantage since, by working at lower temperatures, the serious problem of the sinterization of the catalyzer is avoided, and therefore the stability of the material increases.

Equally promising, these catalyzers are applicable in any other reaction in which activation of the molecules of hydrogen is required. This activation is catalyzed at relatively low temperatures and therefore with a lower energy cost.


  • These catalyzers do not employ noble metals in their composition.
  • They have a low content in lanthanides
  • They present a high oxygen storage capacity at low temperatures.
  • They can operate efficiently at temperatures between 150 and 500ºC, thus preventing the sinterization of the catalyzer.
  • The manufacturing costs of these catalyzers are much lower than for the conventional kind.
  • High stability.
  • Use in systems of three-way catalysis.
  • Use in reactions that involve activation of the molecule of hydrogen; they facilitate this activation at temperatures lower than those of conventional processes, and therefore with lower energy cost.


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