Improved Combustion Catalysts for NOx Emission Reduction

EPA Grant Number: R831276C015
Subproject: this is subproject number 015 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant CR831276
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)
Center Director: Ho, Tho C.
Title: Improved Combustion Catalysts for NOx Emission Reduction
Investigators: Richardson, James T.
Institution: University of Houston - University Park
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: December 1, 2003 through November 30, 2004
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Gulf Coast Hazardous Substance Research Center (Lamar University) (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research


A major problem facing the U.S. energy industry in the twenty-first century is clean, efficient utilization of fuel. Since over consumed for power and industrial heat, the efficiency of combustion processes must be increased and NOx emissions decreased from 150-200 ppm to less than 5 ppm. This is especially critical in the Houston-Galveston area, which is mandated to reduce NOx, emissions by 90% by 2013. Catalytic combustion is an option, since it occurs at much lower temperatures than conventional flames and gives ultra-low emissions of NOx, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons. Despite these advantages, no commercial technology is available today. This is because the catalyst must be active enough to ensure ignition at temperatures as low as 350°C, yet be thermally stable enough to resist temperatures as tried, but because of lack of mixing in the structure, differences within channels produce hot spots that ruin the catalyst.

The Department of Energy has estimated that, if this technology could be used on a 100 MW plant, the total cost over a fifteen year period would be $40,000/MW. This is 22% of the cost of the technology now used to removing NOx, i.e. treatment of the combustion gas.

This proposed research will substitute ceramic foams for the parallel-channel monoliths. Previous research by the Principal Investigator demonstrated unique features for these sponge-like, open cell materials: pressure drop, enhanced mixing, high external surfaces, and improved mass and heat transfer. Methods were developed for washcoating the foams with high-surface area catalysts and for modeling similar exothermic processes. Extending this technology to catalytic combustion will not be trivial, since the wide range of temperature encountered places extreme demands on the system.


By testing under combustion conditions, we will examine foam materials, pore densities, catalysts, and washcoat materials to find the best combinations that match the requirements. We are currently completing a project funded by a State of Texas ATP grant in which a combustion test facility has been constructed. This emphasis on the presence of NOx and products of incomplete combustion. We have also demonstrated that an active yet stable compound, BaMn hexa-aluminate, can be washcoated onto foams so that its activity is preserved.

Expected Results:

This three-year project will use this equipment and expertise to optimize the properties of the catalytic combustion system, including: (1) the ceramic foam material, (2) ceramic foam pore density, (3) preparing the washcoat powder, (4) applying the washcoat to the foam, and (5) design of the catalytic burner. The objective is to develop the most stable catalyst system for lean combustion in the temperature range 350-1,300°C with NOx levels below 3 ppm. The final result will be a design suitable for commercialization tests. The total cost of the project will average $74,400 per year for three years.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 1 publications for this subprojectView all 64 publications for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Waste, INDUSTRY, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Chemical Engineering, air toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals, Chemistry, HAPS, Industrial Processes, Incineration/Combustion, Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, Nitrogen Oxides, NOx reduction, Nox, combustion byproducts, VOC removal, air pollution control, combustion emissions, combustion technology, combustion, VOC emission controls, nitrogen oxides (Nox), exhaust, catalytic combustion, VOC treatment, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), air quality

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    CR831276    Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R831276C001 DNAPL Source Control by Reductive Dechlorination with Fe(II)
    R831276C002 Arsenic Removal and Stabilization with Synthesized Pyrite
    R831276C003 A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination
    R831276C004 Visible-Light-Responsive Titania Modified with Aerogel/Ferroelectric Optical Materials for VOC Oxidation
    R831276C005 Development of a Microwave-Induced On-Site Regeneration Technology for Advancing the Control of Mercury and VOC Emissions Employing Activated Carbon
    R831276C006 Pollution Prevention through Functionality Tracking and Property Integration
    R831276C007 Compact Nephelometer System for On-Line Monitoring of Particulate Matter Emissions
    R831276C008 Effect of Pitting Corrosion Promoters on the Treatment of Waters Contaminated with a Nitroaromatic Compounds Using Integrated Reductive/Oxidative Processes
    R831276C009 Linear Polymer Chain and Bioengineered Chelators for Metals Remediation
    R831276C010 Treatment of Perchlorate Contaminated Water Using a Combined Biotic/Abiotic Process
    R831276C011 Rapid Determination of Microbial Pathways for Pollutant Degradation
    R831276C012 Simulations of the Emission, Transport, Chemistry and Deposition of Atmospheric Mercury in the Upper Gulf Coast Region
    R831276C013 Reduction of Environmental Impact and Improvement of Intrinsic Security in Unsteady-state
    R831276C014 Integrated Chemical Complex and Cogeneration Analysis System: Greenhouse Gas Management and Pollution Prevention Solutions
    R831276C015 Improved Combustion Catalysts for NOx Emission Reduction
    R831276C016 A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination
    R831276C017 Minimization of Hazardous Ion-Exchange Brine Waste by Biological Treatment of Perchlorate and Nitrate to Allow Brine Recycle
    R831276C018 Integrated Chemical Complex and Cogeneration Analysis System: Greenhouse Gas Management and Pollution Prevention Solutions