Improved Method of Heating Catalytic Converters of Vehicles to Attain Ultra-Low Emissions

EPA Contract Number: 68D40065
Title: Improved Method of Heating Catalytic Converters of Vehicles to Attain Ultra-Low Emissions
Investigators: Murphy, Oliver J.
Small Business: Lynntech Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1994 through June 1, 1996
Project Amount: $165,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1994) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , SBIR - Air Pollution , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The present generation of gasoline- and methanol-fueled vehicles tested according to the EPA's Federal Test Procedure emit 70-80% of exhaust emissions during the first minute or two following "cold-start". This is primarily due to the ineffectiveness of existing catalytic converters to oxidize hydrocarbons (HC's) and carbon monoxide(CO) until they have reached catalyst light-off temperatures (~350 degrees C). Thus, rapidly increasing the temperature of a catalytic converter under vehicle "cold-start" conditions is of paramount importance in reducing HC and CO emissions to meet new California and Federal emission standards. In a Phase I SBIR project, Lynntech, Inc., demonstrated the feasibility of a new and innovative chemically heated catalyst (CHC) approach to heat a catalytic converter prior to a "cold-start". The approach is based on the spontaneous, low-temperature, flameless, catalytic combustion of hydrogen in the presence of air over highly dispersed novel metal catalysts. The exothermic hydrogen-oxygen recombination reaction generates heat locally, right at the noble metal catalyst particles where it is needed. The overall objective of this Phase II project is to determine the effectiveness of the novel CHC approach for reducing emissions under "cold-start" conditions using a real vehicle. The Phase II development work will be directed toward:

  1. design and fabrication of a low-cost CHC breadboard unit;
  2. installing the breadboard unit in an actual vehicle and evaluating its performance under "cold-start" conditions; and
  3. determining emission levels (non-methane hydrocarbons, NMHC's, together with CO and NOx) on testing the CHC breadboard unit according to the EPA's Federal Test Procedure.

Supplemental Keywords:

Vehicle Emissions, Catalytic Converters, Cold-Start, Catalyst Light-Off Temperature, Chemically Heated Catalyst, Electrically Heated Catalyst., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, air toxics, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Chemistry, HAPS, Technology for Sustainable Environment, mobile sources, Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, vehicle emissions, hydrocarbon, automotive emissions, ultra low emissions, carbon monoxide (CO), automotive exhaust, low emissions , chemically heated catalyst (CHC), carbon monoxide, electrically heated catalyst, start-up emissions, cold start, hydrocarbons, automotive emission controls, catalytic combustion, catalytic converter

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final