Nanotechnology is an advanced science that deals with materials or devices with unique properties when very small in size. Nano refers to a size smaller than 100 nanometers. To put nanometers in perspective, one nanometer is one-one millionth of a millimeter. The diameter of a human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometers thick.
A nanofiber refers to a fibrous material that is approximately 100 nanometers thick, or less. Materials such as polymers, ceramics, and carbon can be used to create nanofibers. Most nanofibers that are within the 100 nanometer range cannot be seen by the human eye or a microscope.
Ceramic nanofiber is a small fiber made from ceramics that can contain other materials, such as catalysts, and can be heated to high temperatures while maintaining its physical properties.
Electrospinning is a process used to create nanofiber materials. Before the electrospinning process begins, a material with liquid properties is pushed through a needle. The needle has either a positive or negative charge, so the material that is extruded from the needle contains the same charge. A short distance from the needle an oppositely charged “collection plate” pulls the solution from the needle, forcing the solution to elongate exponentially. The nanofiber material is collected on the plate and sometimes calcined, or heated, to reduce or refine the nanofiber material to a desired consistency.
Catalysts are substances that speed up chemical reactions while maintaining its reactive properties. Precious metals are used as catalysts in engines to reduce pollution and in chemical streams to speed up reactions.
Three-way catalysts refers to a mix of three metal catalysts. This mix is typically found in catalytic converters in cars. The mix includes palladium, platinum, and rhodium, which has been found to optimally reduce pollution from exhaust gases.
Catalytic converter is a product found on cars and engines that reduces pollution from exhaust streams. Exhaust gases make contact with the surface area of a metal catalyst, or three-way catalysts, and reduce NOx, CO, and THC. The technology was introduced in the 1970s.
Catalytic filter is a fibrous ceramic nanofiber and microfiber composite material. A catalytic filter contains metal catalysts to reduce pollution from exhaust gases and speed up chemical reactions.