Ammonia Generation and Utilization in a Passive SCR (TWC+SCR) System on Lean Gasoline Engine

Vitaly  Prikhodko, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Lean gasoline engines offer greater fuel economy than the common stoichiometric gasoline engine, but the current three way catalyst (TWC) on stoichiometric engines is unable to control nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions in oxidizing exhaust.  For these lean gasoline engines, lean NOX emission control is required to meet existing Tier 2 and upcoming Tier 3 emission regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  While urea-based selective catalytic reduction (SCR) has proven effective in controlling NOX from diesel engines, the urea storage and delivery components can add significant size and cost.  As such, onboard NH3 production via a passive SCR approach is of interest.  In a passive SCR system, NH3 is generated over a close-coupled TWC during periodic slightly rich engine operation and subsequently stored on an underfloor SCR catalyst.  Upon switching to lean operation, NOX passes through the TWC and is reduced by the stored NH3 on the SCR catalyst.  In this work, a passive SCR system was evaluated on a 2.0-liter BMW lean burn gasoline direct injection engine to assess NH3 generation over a Pd-only TWC and utilization over a Cu-based SCR catalyst.  System NOX reduction efficiency and fuel efficiency improvement compared to stoichiometric engine operation were measured.  A feedback control strategy based on cumulative NH3 produced by the TWC during rich operation and NOX emissions during lean operation was implemented on the engine to control lean/rich cycle timing.   At an SCR average inlet temperature of 350 °C, an NH3:NOX ratio of 1.15:1 (achieved through longer rich cycle timing) resulted in 99.7 % NOX conversion.  Increasing NH3 generation further resulted in even higher NOX conversion; however, tailpipe NH3 emissions resulted.  At higher underfloor temperatures, NH3 oxidation over the SCR limited NH3 availability for NOX reduction.  At the engine conditions studied, greater than 99 % NOX conversion was achieved with passive SCR while delivering fuel efficiency benefits ranging between 6-11 % compared with stoichiometric operation.

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