MEXICO CITY – Mexican scientists are designing and employing nano catalytic converters to reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels, Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) said on Tuesday.
The nano catalytic converters were created by researchers from the Center for Nano Sciences and Nanotechnology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) campus in Ensenada, Baja California state, who discovered that their use helped separate pollutants from petroleum’s molecular structure.
Petroleum molecules contain impurities, linear or branched chains that form rings of carbon and hydrogen that include pollutants such as sulfur, nickel and vanadium
“The catalytic converters break the molecule’s bonds with sulfur, nitrogen and those toxic metals, and remove those elements. By then the molecules are clean, as all those pollutant heteroatoms have been removed,” head researcher Sergio Fuentes Moyado said.
Reducing sulfur dioxide emissions is important since, according to the World Health Organization, they can affect the respiratory system and lung function.
The WHO has also observed that hospitalizations and mortality linked to heart disease increase during days with high sulfur dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
According to environmental science expert Efrain Nieblas, at least 488 tons of sulfur dioxide are produced each year in the state of Baja California due to the burning of fossil fuels to power vehicles.