1997-10-01

The Effect of Fuel Sulfur on the OBD-II Catalyst Monitor 972855

The effect of fuel sulfur on the dual HEGO sensor OBD-II catalyst monitor has been investigated. Laboratory studies revealed two competing effects of the fuel sulfur on the operation of the catalyst monitor: 1. the loss of catalyst oxygen storage capacity, and 2. the degradation in the response rate of the rear HEGO sensor. The magnitude of the loss in catalyst OSC relative to the increase in rear HEGO sensor response time determined whether the rear HEGO sensor index increased, decreased, or remained constant as the fuel sulfur level was increased. The effect of fuel sulfur on tailpipe emissions and the catalyst monitor was also measured for two LEVs equipped with Pd-only catalyst technology (a 1997MY Escort and a 1998MY Crown Victoria). For both vehicles, the effect of the fuel sulfur on the rear HEGO sensor response characteristics dominated; as the fuel sulfur level was increased, tailpipe emissions increased, but the rear HEGO sensor index decreased. The results of both the laboratory and vehicle studies indicate that there is minimal risk for false catalyst monitor MIL activation due to fuel sulfur with LEV/ULEV catalyst technology. However, the findings of this work also clearly show that the risk for false passes is high and that the increased variability in the catalyst monitor which results due to fuel sulfur will make compliance with the 1.75x emission threshold for LEV/ULEVs technically infeasible.

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