Aerogels are high surface area, low density, low thermal mass, nanoporous materials that are stable at high temperatures. This unique combination of physical characteristics makes them promising for use in three-way catalyst systems. Their high surface area has the potential to result in more active sites and improved gas/solid interaction. Their high temperature stability may reduce active site diffusion/sintering and allow for close coupling, which combined with the low thermal inertia may lead to a reduced time to light-off. It is relatively easy to incorporate a variety of metals, including non-precious group metals, into an aerogel backbone. We have developed a series of copper-alumina (CuAl) aerogels via sol-gel synthesis and rapid supercritical extraction drying. Different amounts of copper were incorporated into the alumina gel, resulting in materials with 20% to 40% copper by mass. Scanning electron microscopy imaging shows copper-containing particles distributed in the material, and powder X-ray diffraction indicates that the copper may be in the copper aluminate spinel phase after heat treatment. The materials were tested in the Union Catalytic Aerogel Testbed (UCAT), which evaluates catalytic material performance for conversion of NO, HCs, and CO over a range of temperatures from 200 to 700 °C using a simulated exhaust gas mixture with and without air. UCAT test results indicate that adding more copper to the aerogel lowers the light-off temperature from 350 to 225–250 °C for the conversion of CO and from 500 to 425–450 °C for the conversion of HCs (in the presence of air) and from 425 to 325 °C for NO (without air).
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Johnson, T.V.: SAE 2012 world congress, vehicular emission control highlights of the annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) international congress. Platin. Met. Rev. 57(2), 117–122 (2013)
Cooper, J., Beecham, J.: A study of platinum group metals in three-way autocatalysts. Platin. Met. Rev. 57(4), 281–288 (2013)
Bosteels, D., Searles, R.A.: Exhaust emission catalyst technology. Platin. Met. Rev. 46(1), 27–36 (2002)
He, J.J., Wang, C.X., Zheng, T.T., Zhao, Y.K.: Thermally induced deactivation and the corresponding strategies for improving durability in automotive three-way catalysts. Johnson Matthey Technology Review. 60(3), 196–203 (2016)
González-Marcos, M.P., Pereda-Ayo, B., Aranzabal, A., González-Marcos, J.A., González-Velasco, J.R.: On the effect of reduction and ageing on the TWC activity of Pd/Ce0.68Zr0.32O2 under simulated automotive exhausts. Catal. Today. 180(1), 88–95 (2012)
Heck, R. M., Farrauto, R. J., & Gulati, S. T. (2009). Catalytic Air Pollution Control: Commercial Technology. John Wiley & Sons
Pajonk, G.M.: Aerogel catalysts. Appl. Catal. 72(2), 217–266 (1991)
Pajonk, G.M.: Catalytic aerogels. Catal. Today. 35(3), 319–337 (1997)
Pajonk, G.M.: Some catalytic applications of aerogels for environmental purposes. Catal. Today. 52(1), 3–13 (1999)
Pajonk, G.M. (2007). Aerogel synthesis. Ch. 3 in Catalyst Preparation, CRC press
Choi, J., Suh, D.J.: Catalytic applications of aerogels. Catal. Surv. Jpn. 11(3), 123–133 (2007)
Gash, A.E., Tillotson, T.M., Satcher Jr., J.H., Hrubesh, L.W., Simpson, R.L.: New sol–gel synthetic route to transition and main-group metal oxide aerogels using inorganic salt precursors. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 285(1–3), 22–28 (2001)
Keysar, S., Shter, G.E., de Hazan, Y., Cohen, Y., Grader, G.S.: Heat treatment of alumina aerogels. Chem. Mater. 9(11), 2464–2467 (1997)
Horiuchi, T., Osaki, T., Sugiyama, T., Suzuki, K., Mori, T.: Maintenance of large surface area of alumina heated at elevated temperatures above 1300° C by preparing silica-containing pseudoboehmite aerogel. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 291(3), 187–198 (2001)
Bouck, R.M., Anderson, A.M., Prasad, C., Hagerman, M.E., Carroll, M.K.: Cobalt-alumina sol gels: effects of heat treatment on structure and catalytic ability. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 453, 94–102 (2016)
Gauthier, B.M., Bakrania, S.D., Anderson, A.M., Carroll, M.K.: A fast supercritical extraction technique for aerogel fabrication. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 350, 238–243 (2004)
Carroll, M.K., Anderson, A.M., Gorka, C.A.: Preparing silica aerogel monoliths via a rapid supercritical extraction method. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). 84, e51421 (2014)
Anderson, A.M., Bruno, B.A., Donlon, E.A., Posada, L.F., Carroll, M.K.: Fabrication and testing of catalytic aerogels prepared via rapid supercritical extraction. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). 138, e57075 (2018)
Bono, M.S., Anderson, A.M., Carroll, M.K.: Alumina aerogels prepared via rapid supercritical extraction. J. Sol-Gel Sci. Technol. 53(2), 216–226 (2010)
Dunn, N.J.H., Carroll, M.K., Anderson, A.M.: Characterization of alumina and nickel-alumina aerogels prepared via rapid supercritical extraction. Polym. Prepr. 52(1), 250–251 (2011)
Brown, L.B., Anderson, A.M., Carroll, M.K.: Fabrication of titania and titania–silica aerogels using rapid supercritical extraction. J. Sol-Gel Sci. Technol. 62(3), 404–413 (2012)
Bruno, B. A., Madero, J. E., Juhl, S. J., Rodriguez, J. Dunn, N. J. H., Carroll, M. K., & Anderson, A. M. (2012). Alumina-based aerogels as three-way catalysts. Proceedings of the 9th Int‘l Congress on Catalysis and Automotive Pollution Control (CAPoC9), August 29–31, Brussels, Belgium
Juhl, S.J., Dunn, N.J., Carroll, M.K., Anderson, A.M., Bruno, B.A., Madero, J.E., Bono, M.S.: Epoxide-assisted alumina aerogels by rapid supercritical extraction. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 426, 141–149 (2015)
Smith, L.C., Anderson, A.M., Carroll, M.K.: Preparation of vanadia-containing aerogels by rapid supercritical extraction for applications in catalysis. J. Sol-Gel Sci. Technol. 77(1), 160–171 (2016)
Bruno, B. A., Anderson, A. M., Carroll, M., Swanton, T., Brockmann, P., Palace, T., & Ramphal, I. A. (2016). Benchtop scale testing of aerogel catalysts: preliminary results. SAE Technical Paper No. 2016-01-0920
Tobin, Z.M., Posada, L.F., Bechu, A.M., Carroll, M.K., Bouck, R.M., Anderson, A.M., Bruno, B.A.: Preparation and characterization of copper-containing alumina and silica aerogels for catalytic applications. J. Sol-Gel Sci. Technol. 84(3), 432–445 (2017)
Anderson, A.M., Donlon, E.A., Forti, A.A., Silva, V.P., Bruno, B.A., Carroll, M.K.: Synthesis and characterization of copper-nanoparticle-containing silica aerogel prepared via rapid supercritical extraction for applications in three-way catalysis. MRS Advances. 2(57), 3485–3490 (2017)
Posada, L.F., Carroll, M.K., Anderson, A.M., Bruno, B.A.: Inclusion of ceria in alumina- and silica-based aerogels for catalytic applications. J. Supercrit. Fluids. 152, 104536 (2019)
Harris, D.C.: Quantitative Chemical Analysis, 9th edn. W. H. Freeman, New York (2016)
Reichenauer, G., Scherer, G.W.: Nitrogen sorption in aerogels. J. Non-Cryst. Solids. 285(1–3), 167–174 (2001)
Hirakawa, T., Shimokawa, Y., Tokuzumi, W., Sato, T., Tsushida, M., Yoshida, H., Hinokuma, S., Ohyama, J., Machida, M.: Multicomponent spinel oxide solid solutions: a possible alternative to platinum group metal three-way catalysts. ACS Catal. 9(12), 11763–11773 (2019)
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grants No. IIP-1918217, IIP-1823899, DMR-1828144 and CBET-1228851. The authors thank Diana E. Lang, Ryan Puglisi, and Christopher O’Brien for assistance with experimental work. MTL and CA are grateful for funding from Union College through the Summer Research Fellowship program. FD acknowledges summer funding from the Union College Mechanical Engineering Department and the Union College Chemistry Department’s Kane Fund.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Anderson, A.M., Bruno, B.A., Dilone, F. et al. Effect of Copper Loading in Copper-Alumina Aerogels on Three-Way Catalytic Performance. Emiss. Control Sci. Technol. 6, 324–335 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40825-020-00165-z
- Three-way catalyst
- Copper-alumina aerogel