Motor Vehicle Emission Control Quality Monitoring for On-Road Driving: Dynamic Signature Recognition of NO
Motor vehicle emission testing during on-road driving is important to assess a vehicle’s exhaust emission control design, its compliance with Federal regulations and its impact on air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been developing new approaches to screen the characteristics of vehicle dynamic emission control behaviors (its operating signature) while driving both on-road and on-dynamometer. The so-called “signature device” used for this testing is equipped with an O2/NOx sensor, thermocouple and GPS to record dynamic exhaust NOx concentration, air fuel ratio-controlled tailpipe lambda (λ), tailpipe temperature and vehicle speed (acceleration).
In the early EPA research, signature screening was used to characterize a vehicle’s PCM control behaviors (cause/effect bijectivity), which help distinguish operation in normal control state-space and abnormal state-space. Currently, signature devices are being used to recognize when ammonia (NH3) has been emitted and to estimate the presence of NOx and NH3 within on-road and on-dyno driving. The presence of NH3 is observed by the signature device’s NOx sensor at times when tailpipe lambda readings are biased rich, after the engine three-way-catalyst (TWC) has warmed up.
To study the production of NH3, EPA established a vehicle test program to gather and evaluate the emissions from on-road driving conditions. The same driving conditions were then replicated on an indoor chassis dynamometer (dyno) while using a bag analyzer bench, a raw exhaust modal bench, and a signature device to measure vehicle emissions and control behaviors.
EPA ascertained, under certain operating conditions, that stoichiometric engine exhaust passing through a TWC can create hydrogen (CO+H2O→H2), which is then available to produce unregulated ammonia (CO+NO+H2→NH3). These reactions can accelerate when the engine operates with slightly rich-biased lambda introduced either by control or by calibration design. Under current Light-Duty Tier 3 emission regulations, NOx and NMOG emissions are counted together, creating an “opportunity” for more of this type of engine operation.