Small pore zeolite development for clean diesel

Johnson Matthey has been pioneering emission control catalysts for over 40 years. Our scientists apply their catalysis expertise to meet ever tightening emissions legislation. Recently, we turned our focus to the design and application of a new generation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalyst for use on diesel vehicles. This new catalyst is even more effective at removing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions whether in slow speed city conditions or for high speed motorway driving.

SCR catalysts are manufactured using zeolites. These materials have a cage structure with a metal catalytic site and it is within these cages that the NOx emissions are reacted with ammonia to form harmless nitrogen. Our researchers discovered it was the small pore nature of zeolites that gave the unique activity, thermal stability and poison tolerance compared with larger pore SCR zeolite catalysts.

Through extensive screening and modelling, we discovered a new, small pore metal zeolite catalyst with remarkable activity even when exposed to very high temperatures. Applying our chemistry and engineering processing expertise, we scaled up from the lab to mass production using raw materials more efficiently and reducing water needs.

This catalyst is now being used in our flow-through SCR catalyst, and owing to its excellent durability, it's also found in a diesel soot filter - the selective catalytic reduction filter (SCRF), where very high temperatures are encountered. This SCRF can be located close to the engine, removing soot and NOx in the most energy efficient way.


Enhancing capabilities in particle engineering for pharmaceuticals

Johnson Matthey develops and makes active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to treat a wide range of conditions, from severe pain to muscular dystrophy. But there is more to API development than just making a molecule. We apply our expertise in particle engineering to develop effective and reliable ingredients with the right solubility, consistency, and uniformity.

Particle engineering starts with identifying the right crystalline ‘solid form’ of the API molecule. Different forms can exhibit quite different solubility, stability and bioavailability (the amount of a dose that reaches the bloodstream) characteristics. We screen to identify and characterise them and pick a preferred crystal form for the drug.

Once selected, particles must be produced with a defined shape, size, composition, structure and with desired surface characteristics. Sometimes, the solubility and bioavailability of a crystalline pharmaceutical compound is not enough to produce an effective drug product in the initial form. This can be improved by crystallising or milling to achieve a small particle size, or dispersion and stabilisation. By a variety of particle engineering techniques, we can generate an API product of the desired particle size and uniformity, produced by a robust process, ready for formulation by our customers. Modelling plays an important role in our API development; we can be more efficient, deliver more robust processes, be confident in the scale up to manufacture and reduce the amount of API required for particle engineering development.

Particle engineering

Alternative feedstocks for a sustainable future

The world is calling out for sustainable manufacturing and new ways to produce the chemicals and fuels we need. Our expertise in the generation, purification and chemical modification of syngas opens the door to renewable feedstocks, efficient manufacturing and low carbon technologies.

Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, produced by converting any carbon containing material into a gaseous form. JM technology is used to turn these gasified feedstocks into a wide range of useful materials such as ammonia, methanol, methane and waxes. JM has been doing this for years and has a bounty of expertise in the catalysts and processes.

Syngas traditionally comes from coal or natural gas, but now things like municipal solid waste or renewable biomass can be used to make syngas.

Through our partnership with BP, we introduced a process based on Fischer Tropsch (FT) technology to economically convert synthesis gas generated from such feedstocks into waxes suitable for the production of diesel and jet fuel.

Its modular design enables low risk scale up and simple operation, while the catalyst gives high productivity and selectivity. The unique design of stacked catalyst carriers cleverly manages heat transfer and pressure drop. Compared with conventional fixed bed tubular reactors, the new system reduces capital expenditure by around 50% and enables the FT process to be economically scaled down to a size suitable for waste and / or biomass gasification.


Batteries – a technology enabled market

A battery might look simple, but inside complex reactions and electrochemistry are taking place. Electric vehicle (EV) batteries must have high energy, fast charging, long life, high reliability and be safe. Designing and engineering materials is one of JM’s key capabilities. That’s why we are developing innovative battery materials that will deliver all the key criteria required for battery electric vehicles.

We are using our expertise in materials design and engineering to develop our portfolio of high nickel cathode materials for lithium ion applications, eLNO, which offers advanced energy density, and performance demanded by battery electric vehicles.

Through understanding how materials work at an atomic level, how they behave in use, and how they interact with other materials, we design in and customise the properties needed for the performance, range and recharging demanded by customers.

Recently, we have acquired silicon based anode material intellectual property from 3M. JM is in a uniquely strong position to maximise the benefits of silicon technology by combining it with our leading cathode materials. Thanks to JM scientists’ deep understanding of the electrochemistry interaction, we can bring out the best of the both worlds and develop optimised solutions for our customers.

Our leadership comes from our ability to customise materials with the right ‘ingredients’ and proprietary ‘recipe’ to deliver the specific characteristics that matter most to our customers. Building from the experience we have with our automotive customers in emission control technology, we know that OEMs have different performance requirements, so we use our expertise to tailor our materials.


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