Facility and

QuantumSphere, Inc.
2905 Tech Center Drive
Santa Ana, CA 92705

714-545-NANO (6266)


QSI Product Spec Sheet

Emissions Reduction

Home > Emissions Reduction
Emissions Reduction


A multi-billion dollar global industry, catalysts are essential to the world’s industrial production. As much as 90% of all chemical processes utilize catalysts (petroleum refining, pollution abatement, and production of fuels and chemicals) and 60% of all industrial products (fertilizers, plastics, and pharmaceuticals) are made using catalysts. Catalysts are now seen as a preferred way to improve process efficiency, lower costs, increase output, use less energy, and meet both performance and environmental standards. This is placing a strong emphasis on the development of new catalysts with higher activity, increased longevity, and reduced environmental and/or health impact.

The U.S. emissions reduction or emission controls market is currently valued at approximately $3B annually, of which more than half is precious metal cost. Heterogeneous thermo catalysts have and continuing to play a major role in emission controls.

Technologies developed for the transportation industry have played a vital role in the growth of the nation’s economy, while also playing a negative role by increasing pollution and dependency on foreign oil sources.

In the U.S., the Clean Air Act (1970) forced environmental regulatory agencies (EPA, CARB) to set up legally binding limits for pollutants emitted from internal combustion engines. This started an industry-wide drive to improve engine and emission control technologies to meet increasingly stringent regulatory limits. Examples of such engine technologies are fuel injection, variable valve timing, variable geometry turbo boosting, and in-cylinder fuel injection.

Technological improvements in diesel engine emissions are being applied at a staggering rate. The list of emission controls for diesel engines include diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and lean NOx trap (LNT). Each technology is employed to decrease the levels of emitted carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), particulate matter (PM/Soot) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), respectively, from the exhaust.

Advancements in electronics have afforded engine and vehicle manufacturers the ability to improve their engine offerings by tighter control of various aspects of the combustion cycle. This control relies on feedback to the engine control unit (ECU) of an engine from a variety of sensors. The list of sensors employed is wide ranging, from knock sensors and cam position to intake air mass flow and oxygen sensors.

Decreasing emission limits, coupled with specific regulatory items (e.g., On Board Diagnostics – OBD, NTE – Not to Exceed rule) are driving the development of new sensing technologies, specifically targeting exhaust applications.

At the same time, availability of crude oil is unstable and its price is highly volatile. This supply problem is also aggravated by the need for crude oil to support the economic growth of large-population emerging countries (i.e., China, India). In the U.S. the focus on renewable energy and fuels has never been greater. In the automotive sector, flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on blends of gasoline and ethanol in mixtures up to 85% (E85) are becoming a large percentage of the annual light duty vehicle sales. This is further aided by credits given to automotive manufacturers for introducing these engines and by the rapid expansion of ethanol production (projected to be in excess of 11 billion gallons/year by the end of 2009).

Hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles is also in the spotlight and both renewable energy and renewable feed stocks can be used to produce it.

In the heavy duty and off-road segments, where diesel is the primary fuel, the introduction of bio-diesel as the renewable fuel is helping to decrease our dependency on foreign oil sources. Generally, the next five to ten years will bring exciting, disruptive changes to the automotive industry as new greener, emerging technologies will assist in fighting the current energy crisis on many fronts.


Emission regulations are targeting, to a greater extent, diesel engines used in a wide range of applications (on highway vehicles, off-road, ships, and locomotives). This is because both the particulate matter (PM) and NOx emitted from these engines are the primary causes for much of the ground level ozone and its associated health impacts. The majority of emissions occur during the first minute after startup (during the warm-up) of these engines. The greatest challenge is to achieve low emissions regulatory requirements at the lowest possible exhaust temperature. Another major challenge is to have emission controls that can reliably achieve low levels for long useful lives of the associated applications, for example 435,000 miles for class 8 trucks.

In parallel to continually changing emission regulations, the emissions reduction industry is constantly looking for opportunities to reduce costs and increase performance. Platinum is extensively used within emission control catalysts and there is an ongoing drive to identify new catalysts that provide similar or better performance without the associated high costs of this precious metal.


Emission Control
Heterogeneous thermo catalysts are the backbone of emission controls. These catalysts usually entail a promoting metal and/or metal combinations (Pd, Pt, Rh, Fe, Cu, Ni, Co) placed on high surface area supports and/or combinations (alumina, ceria, zirconia, titania, zeolites). The size (nanometer range) and nature (base metal vs. oxides) of the metallic promoter plays a critical role in achieving high catalytic efficiencies under the most grueling exhaust conditions. In this respect, QuantumSphere is playing a vital enabling role by providing nano-sized promoting metals that can increase the efficiency of some of the much needed emission control technologies, thus being able to achieve similar or lower levels of emissions at reduced exhaust gas temperature aiding companies to sell products that achieve stricter emission regulations. These nano metals have the capability, due to small oxide passivation layers, to meet the extensive durability requirements, by decreasing the amount of agglomeration and/or sintering of the metallic promoters that normally occurs within these catalysts.

Furthermore, QSI has developed dispersion technologies that make use of our proprietary nano-scale catalysts for the best possible introduction into catalyst wash coat formulations, by-passing the need for solutions of these metal promoters. As a result, QSI can also provide not only the specific nano-metal promoter, but also the know-how and the nano-metal in a format that can be seamlessly integrated into current catalyst manufacturing processes. Using QSI’s nanocatalysts, our partners are able to reduce and sometimes completely remove Platinum thereby reducing costs and providing them with a significant competitive advantage.

Moving Forward
For the automotive industry, in emission controls or sensing technologies, QuantumSphere has the enabling nano-sized solution (materials and processing technology) and has positioned itself to support a broad range of these applications. We invite input and/or collaborative partnership opportunities so that we may bring these and other solutions to the market more rapidly.