Microlith (catalytic reactor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Close-up of a Microlith screen

Microlith is a brand of catalytic reactor invented by the prize-winning engineer William C. Pfefferle and sold by Precision Combustion. Microlith's advantages include its weight, size, efficiency, and fast thermal response.


A catalyst is a substance that speeds a reaction but that itself is left in its original state after the reaction, so that it can assist in the reaction of a large quantity of material over a long period of time. A Microlith reactor is constructed with a very thin metal substrate coated with a variety of materials including catalysts to speed reactions, and adsorbent materials for use in filters. The substrate has short channels (0.001–0.020 in)[1] which resemble screens or meshes. This results in a lower pressure drop than other reactors and allows for high cell density and low thermal mass. Mass and heat transfer are significantly increased, allowing faster reactor response to gas temperatures and improved rates of reactant contact with the surface. By passing an electric current through the metal substrate, the Microlith can be heated rapidly and efficiently.[2][3] Over 12 Microlith related US patents have been issued.[4]



  1. ^ Toensmier, Pat. "Redefining Performance." Defense Technology International January 2011: page 77. Print.
  2. ^ "Catalyst Substrates Remove Contaminants, Produce Fuel." NASA Spinoff (2011): pages 128-29>. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Microlith Catalytic Reactor for Cabin Air-Cleaning." NASA SBIR Success Story. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  4. ^ Stinson, Helen. SBIR Success at Marshall. Aerospace Technology Innovation volume 7, number 4 July-Aug 1999: pages 15-17. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  5. ^ Servo, Dr. Jenny C., and Julie A. Smith, eds. "Precision Combustion, Inc." Profiles In Success Archived 2011-03-23 at the Wayback Machine (n.d.): 22-23. Winter 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  6. ^ Knox, J., Perry, J., and Howard, D. Engineered Structured Sorbents for the Adsorption of Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapor from Manned Spacecraft Atmospheres: Applications and Modeling 2007/2008 SAE Technical Paper 2008-01-2094, 2008, doi:10.4271/2008-01-2094. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Fast Lightoff Catalytic Converter for Reduced Combustion Emissions." SBIR Success Stories (n.d.): n. pag. Web. Retrieved 9 July 2013.

External links[edit]