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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 13 Issue 5 (2008) pp 309-313

Detection of NOx in Automobile Exhaust: An Applied Experiment in Atmospheric/Environmental Chemistry for the General Chemistry LaboratorySynthesis and Biological Testing of Blattellaquinone, the Sex Pheromone of the German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)

Christopher W. Dilbeck and Jane A. Ganske*

Department of Chemistry, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA 90263,
Received September 29, 2007. Accepted February 15, 2008.

Published online: 5 August 2008

Abstract. The oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are well-known precursors to ground-level ozone in smoggy areas, and are produced during fuel combustion. A growing body of research suggests that both NOx and ozone pollution exacerbate cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. We describe here a laboratory project for the general chemistry laboratory which employs UV/vis spectroscopy to indirectly quantify NOx in motor vehicle exhaust using a modified Saltzman method. By quantifying the temporal changes in NOx exhaust levels immediately after engine start-up from cold, the operation of a properly functioning catalytic converter employing reduction catalyst technology may be demonstrated.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: October 1, 2008

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