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Technical Paper

Deterioration of Automotive Catalytic Converters (Part 2): Catalytic Performance Characterisation

This is the second part of a two-part study that compared the degree of deterioration of catalytic converters taken from vehicles with low and high odometer readings. Part two details the catalytic performance characteristics of the catalysts that were physically characterised, according to chemical contamination and thermal degradation, previously in part one. The catalytic activity was determined using engine dynamometer and laboratory tests. The low odometer catalysts showed largely uniform light-off temperatures for CO, HC and NO that were increased in the order of 20 % relative to a new catalyst. The steady state activity was largely unaffected. The dominant deactivation mechanism of these catalysts was found to be the baseline thermal deterioration of the alumina washcoat under normal vehicle operating conditions. The deactivation shown in the high odometer catalysts was highly varied with the greatest loss of activity resulting from exposure to severe thermal conditions.
Technical Paper

Deterioration of Automotive Catalytic Converters: Physical Catalyst Characterisation

The degree of physical deterioration of catalytic converters removed from two groups of motor vehicles with low and high odometer readings have been studied. The changes in the physical and chemical properties between the two catalyst groups were investigated using the XRD, BET and PIXE/PIGE techniques. Thermal damage was the main catalyst deterioration mechanism in both odometer groups. The low odometer group showed near-uniformity in both surface area loss (average 45 %) and degree of CeO2 sintering representing the baseline thermal deterioration from normal vehicle operation. High odometer catalysts displayed more complex deactivation mechanisms involving both chemical contamination and thermal deactivation such as support phase transformation, internal “hot zones” and contaminant-support interactions.