Alexander Suárez

PhD student developing new catalysts to reduce car exhaust gases

Environmental challenges have always been at the core of my career, in one way or another. As a scientist, it is important for me to do something that can have an impact. After starting chemistry, I did a master’s in materials science in Spain, with some focus on nanomaterials and heterogeneous catalysis. After this, I moved back to my country, Colombia, where I started working in quality control in environmental issues in the industry.

But I always had in mind the idea of following PhD studies. So when I found that InnovaXN project opened a position for  developing new three-way catalysts (TWC) for the reduction of automobile exhaust gases, I applied without hesitation and, fortunately,  I got it.  This research is managed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Umicore and the ESRF. The project is about designing in situ – Operando studies to characterise TWC using X-rays. This idea is novel, and it could lead to better ways of manufacturing catalysts with a positive environmental impact. We use this method on ID26 and we are working to emulate real conditions of reaction, which will allow us to improve the catalytic performance of TWC.

The challenge is huge, so I am learning about many different aspects of the research at the same time. I am really motivated. To be honest, I am so fascinated by my project that I have not really felt a big impact of Covid-19 in my life.

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