Zone Length Optimization to Improve PGM Utility 2014-01-1508
“Zoning” a catalytic converter involves placing higher concentrations of platinum group metals (PGM) in the inlet portion of the substrate. This is done to optimize the cost-to-performance tradeoff by increasing the reaction rate at lower temperatures while minimizing PGM usage. A potentially useful application of catalyst zoning is to improve performance using a constant PGM mass. A study was performed to assess what the optimum ratio of front to rear palladium zone length is to achieve the highest performance in vehicle emission testing. Varying the zone ratio from 1:1 to 1:9 shows a clear hydrocarbon performance optimum at a 1:5.66 (15%/85%) split. This performance optimum shows as both a minimum in FTP75 non-methane organic gas (NMOG) emissions as well as a minimum in hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide light-off temperature. Overall, an improvement of 18%, or 11 mg/mi of combined NMOG+NOx emissions was obtained without using additional PGM. This study shows how the competing forces of active PGM site concentration and available surface area interact in modern three way catalyst design.