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November 17th, 2009

MemPro’s ceramic catalytic converters get NSF boost

Published on November 17th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
MemPro CEO John Finley holds a bit of the ceramic fiber that's at the heart of the company's technology.

MemPro CEO John Finley holds a bit of the ceramic fiber that's at the heart of the company's technology.

According to a press release, MemPro was recently awarded another Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Science Foundation for $147,000 — bringing the total the company has received from NSF to $847,000.

Typical catalytic converters rely on expensive metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, so industry has long looked for a way to get the same level of catalysis using less of those pricey metals. MemPro’s “nCATfiber” ceramic material works essentially like the catalytic material found in a car – but uses a lot less of the rare metals.

MemPro innovation is that it uses flexible nanoscale ceramic fibers that still contain the catalytic material, but in much small amounts. The nanofibers provide more surface area and can more efficiently use the embedded metals. Company head John Finlay claims MemPro’s ceramic catalytic converters reduce materials cost by 75 percent. MemPro also claims its fibers allow operations at much higher temperatures and are completely recyclable.

Nanofibers holding particles of metal catalysts. Credot: Univ. of Akron, Sneha Swaminathan.)

Nanofibers holding particles of metal catalysts. Credit: University of Akron, Sneha Swaminathan.)

MemPro’s fibers are produced by electrospinning using advanced techniques developed at and licensed from the University of Akron.

The company is currently marketing its product to the makers of small nonroad engines for consumer goods like lawnmowers, snowblowers and weed whackers. Although currently unregulated, these engines will be required to meet a new set of EPA emission standards by 2012. MemPro says the new grant will allow research on systems for “larger engines, biofuel synthesis, new battery technologies, and removal of hydrogen sulfides from natural gas streams.”

In an interview with the Summit (Colorado) Daily News, Finley said the NSF believes MemPro is doing good things from a technical perspective, but that the company also has a good shot at commercializing what they do. “And NSF likes that because they get money from Congress, and they like to point to successes,” Finley said.

In the following video (at about 50 seconds in), Findley is interviewed and claims their is a potential $10 billion market for converters like his. The video also has displays some samples of the material and a few applications. He also boldly claims that this technology can make coal a “clean” energy source.

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