The 5th International Conference on Environmental Catalysis (5th ICEC) is being held in Belfast, Ireland. I got the honour to give a plenary lecture to give an introduction of the automotive section.
In the research community a great deal of attention is put on understanding and improving emission control technology further. Even small improvements in catalyst technology have large impact on system cost and thus on competitiveness of the different vehicle technology solutions. As a prominent example, there has been a major improvement of the stability of zeolite catalysts for abatement of NOx by Urea SCR technology. Both copper and iron zeolites are now in commercial use.
In the ideal case industry would prefer to decompose NOx without using a reducing agent. The decomposition however is still too slow also on the most active materials to allow commercial use. As the second most preferred solution many researchers turn to diesel fuel as a reducing agent. In Europe, Åbo Akademi made a lot of progress a couple of years ago. The preparation method for manufacturing was however considered a complication. I was glad to learn, at 5th ICEC, that further research progress was reported by several research groups. Possibly, the silver alumina catalyst is not dead after all?
Another presentation, made by Akira Obuchi, warmed my heart. A heat exchanger was used as a substrate for NOx reduction catalysts. This is a technology that we have been evaluating at Volvo, which now eventually made it to the research arena. This is hopefully a step towards commercialisation.
The organiser Robbie Burch in front of the Lanyon Building of Queens University
The conference is turning out to be a tribute to Robbie Burch that has announced his retirement for next year. I believe it when I see it, everybody know that researchers never retire completely. For the conference he has certainly managed to gather a large number of the leading scientist and I would not be surprised if this will become one of those legendary meetings the gave birth to many new ideas.
As always, I went jogging in the morning. Last time I was in Belfast some six years ago there was still some tension in the air. Now, it was all gone, one of those beautiful mornings, and you could feel this would be a nice place to live in. Running along the Lagan River, took me to the city centre. There is construction work going on everywhere, as in most places that flourish. And, traffic congestion problems follows…
Most of the new double decker buses I saw were built by Wrightbus on Volvo Chassis.