Catalysts For NASCAR | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 19 | p. 2 | Letters
Issue Date: May 11, 2009

Catalysts For NASCAR

Department: Letters

LIVING NEAR the heart of NASCAR country, I found Bethany Halford's cover article extremely interesting and have shared it with a number of nonchemist NASCAR-fan friends (C&EN, Feb. 2, page 12).

Another chemistry-based material currently being used extensively by the drivers is a low- (ambient-) temperature oxidation catalyst developed by NASA for a space-based carbon dioxide laser. Primarily consisting of platinum and a mix of metal oxides coated on a ceramic substrate, the noble metal reducible metal oxide catalyst converts carbon monoxide and oxygen to carbon dioxide without requiring the addition of heat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious hazard for the drivers, resulting in nausea, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue because the race cars do not use catalytic converters. Penske Engineering, of Mooresville, N.C., led an effort to design, develop, and demonstrate a three-part kit including an activated carbon filter, the carbon monoxide scrubbing catalyst, and a 99.997% high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter providing cooled air directly into a driver's helmet, an important safety advance.

Dubbed the INCAR System and manufactured and marketed by Kustom Komponents of Temple, Pa., the kits are used by major racing teams, including Penske Racing, Roush Racing, Hendrix Motorsports, and Robert Yates Racing, among others. Depending upon track and humidity conditions, the reduction in harmful gases of as much as 70% or more is achieved. STC Catalysts (SCi) of Hampton, Va., manufactures the catalysts for use in these filters and other applications.

George Wood
Hampton, Va.

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