A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO Poisoning)

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Carbon Monoxide Removal through Oxidation Catalysis

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a noxious and potentially fatal gas that is produced as a result of incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon such as petroleum or natural gas. Minimal exposure to CO can cause adverse side effects that include headache, fatigue, dizziness, sore throat, as well as other various malaises. Prolonged exposure can cause much more serious symptoms such as arrhythmia, breathing problems, sleepiness, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, death. With oxidation catalysis, carbon monoxide removal is possible.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that hundreds of people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, with elderly people, young children, and those with respiratory problems being among the most susceptible to having a fatal reaction from carbon monoxide inhalation. Carbon monoxide is known to be a silent killer as it is invisible, has no odor whatsoever, and its harmful effects are almost immediate.

Luckily, carbon monoxide removal is possible through the process of catalysis. Catalysis is a change in the rate of a chemical reaction; it can either speed it up or slow it down. Catalysts that speed up a process are called positive catalysts whereas catalysts that slow down a reaction are called negative catalysts.

The catalysis that results in carbon monoxide removal involves a positive catalyst. It speeds up the reaction that produces CO, and introduces it to oxygen in order to convert the toxic carbon monoxide into the completely harmless carbon dioxide. The reaction is very simple: carbon monoxide (CO) plus Oxygen (O) equals carbon dioxide (CO2). Although the catalyst itself may undergo transformations during the reaction, it emerges unchanged at the culmination of the process.

Types of Oxidation Catalysts
There are many different types of oxidation catalysts that result in carbon dioxide removal. The type of catalyst chosen typically depends on a variety of different factors including the amount of oxygen available as well as how the catalyst will be applied.

The gas which is contaminated with carbon monoxide must contain some initial amount of oxygen in order for the oxidation catalysis to work properly. There are several factors which affect how successful the catalysis will be in converting the poisonous carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide including how much carbon monoxide is present, the temperature and humidity levels of the atmosphere, and the other chemicals or contaminants present at the time of catalysis.

Generally speaking, oxidation catalysis usually requires the use of transition metals such as gold, palladium, ruthenium, platinum, iridium, and rhodium. All oxidation catalysts work the same way to transform carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, thus reducing or eliminating the potential risk of CO inhalation.

There are some useful applications for carbon monoxide removal via catalysis, commercially, industrially, and residentially, that is businesses, factories, and homes could benefit from the process of oxidation catalysis. Devices that use this reaction to minimize or erase traces of CO in a building or warehouse could potentially decrease the incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning and thus, save countless lives.

Research is ongoing to develop a patent for a reliable carbon monoxide removal system that harnesses the power of the oxidation catalysis process. NASA has developed such a system, and if it makes its way to the marketplace, it could have a profound effect on establishing some control over carbon monoxide poisoning. In the future, we may be able to not only detect carbon monoxide in our environment, but also render it completely harmless.



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