Thanks to NASA, a new method for reducing smokestack
emissions of toxic formaldehyde and carbon monoxide may soon
be in use throughout industry.

Created for satellite lasers to measure the chemical makeup
of the Earth’s atmosphere, the smokestack application of Low-
Temperature Oxidation Catalysts (LTOC) comes from a
collection of technologies that enables the destruction of
pollutant gasses, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons,
as well as some nitrogen oxides.

Developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.,
LTOC technology is expected to reduce formaldehyde and carbon
monoxide concentrations in smokestack emissions by
approximately 85 to 95 percent.

Current pollution remediation technologies are typically very
expensive to implement and maintain according to Dr. Jeff
Jordan, the LTOC team lead at Langley. “The catalytic-based
formaldehyde remediation system will be relatively
inexpensive to implement and maintain within continuously
operating facilities,” said Jordan. “It will reduce the time
and cost associated with industrial compliance with current
and future Environmental Protection Agency pollution

NASA originally called on Langley researchers to develop a
technology for space-based carbon-dioxide laser systems. To
maintain carbon dioxide lasers in space for atmospheric
research, NASA needed a catalyst system that would affect the
oxidation of carbon monoxide, a by-product of carbon-dioxide
laser operation, under the cold vacuum of space.

Although the need for a carbon dioxide laser in space gave
way to solid-state lasers, the NASA research team developed
an oxidation technology that would work at very low
temperatures. LTOC technologies were then adapted for higher
temperature applications like smokestack emissions and the
internal combustion engine.

An automotive catalytic converter using LTOC technology has
met initial EPA requirements and California emission
standards for the automotive after-market. The LTOC catalytic
converter does not require a warm-up period to function and
uses significantly less precious metals than current
commercial products, which reduces the overall cost of the

“Adapting the LTOC technology for pollution remediation
applications has been a very exciting and rewarding endeavor
that will contribute significantly to improving air quality
on a global basis,” said Jordan. “It’s a goal that is
integral to the mission of the NASA agency.”

Through NASA’s technology commercialization program,
Automated Controls Technologies, Inc. (A.C.T.) of Fairmont,
W. Va., is the exclusive licensee for the NASA LTOC
smokestack application. A.C.T. officials expect to have
products on the market in early 2004.

NASA is still accepting license inquiries for other LTOC